Documentary screening highlights Human Trafficking Awareness Month

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COLUMBIA - The Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition wants to bring awareness to the problem of slavery and human trafficking.

The group is hosting a chocolate tasting and movie screening Tuesday evening in downtown Columbia.

The Mustard Seed Fair Trade on Ninth Street is hosting the chocolate tasting from 5-6 p.m.

CMSHTC board member Kathryn Hart said the idea for the tasting came from the fact that child slaves often produce chocolate.

"There's a lot of slave labor that takes place and many people don't realize how many items you purchase on a regular basis actually are produced through slave labor," Hart said.

The documentary will be shown at the First Presbyterian Church on Hitt Street starting at 6:30 p.m. A discussion panel will follow the showing.

The documentary is called "Not My Life" and was directed by Academy Award nominee Robert Bilheimer. It was filmed on five continents and shows the exploitation of children by forced labor, sexual violence and more.

According to the CMSHTC, the panel will include a trafficking survivor, law enforcement, and anti-trafficking advocates from the local community. Fair trade coffee and cookies will be served and available for purchase.

"We will have a survivor who is born and raised in Missouri share her story," Hart said of the discussion. Hart said one thing she wants to express is that human trafficking happens all over, even in Missouri.

People who would like to join CMSHTC can do so at the event.