Documentary Review: The Price of Free

By Samir Shukla

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize to Kailash Satyarthi (along with Malala Yousafzay). Satyarthi has been working for decades to free children held in labor bondage or slavery.

He left a career as an electrical engineer and started Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) to rescue children from the shackles of slavery. In the last nearly four decades, he has rescued more than 87,000 children and built a global movement including the Global March Against Child Labor that demanded an international law on the worst forms of child labor, and the 100 Million Campaign, a youth-driven call to action launched to support young activists to mobilize for the rights of the world's most marginalized children.

Now his work is documented in the gripping new documentary film The Price of Free, directed by Derek Doneen.

The film showcases Satyarthi's team and their raids, where the cameras follow them into “factories" where they locate children who make everything from toys to clothing. Some of the children wind up here after their parents send them to work with “agents" on a temporary basis, but the agents turn out to be traffickers. Poverty and lack of access to education also is part of the web that feeds child labor. He helps parents track down missing children. It's very emotional to watch as children are reunited with their parents.

The film documents many aspects of Satyarthi's work, from secret raids to his activism and peaceful marches bringing light to the scourge of child labor and trafficking. Child labor is not just a problem in India, it is a global scourge.

“This film shows the real scourge of child trafficking, child labor, slavery and exploitation that is ruining the childhood of millions and ruthlessly crushing their dreams," says Satyarthi. “It shares stories of the most marginalized and vulnerable children that I have been fighting for all my life and will continue to. I call on everyone to work with us in creating a world where all children are free, healthy, safe and educated – a world where every child is free to be a child. For, if any child is not free then none of us are free."

More details about his work and organization can be found at www.satyarthi.org.

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Samir Shukla is Editor of Saathee. Reach him at Samir@Saathee.com.