The Price of Free premieres on YouTube globally on November 27 at 9:00am PT and will be free for all to view 24/7.
The film opens with a raid. Activists rush down the narrow alley of a New Delhi industrial area. They race up some stairs and bust down the doors to enter a factory. The heart-pounding tension escalates as they frantically search the building. A man yells while tossing aside bags of goods piled on the roof when suddenly some children pop out from underneath.
So goes our introduction to the work of Indian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi. The new documentary, The Price of Free, which will debut on the Youtube channel SoulPancake on November 27, is an in-depth look at his work to end child slavery and trafficking and the personal toll it takes on him and his family.
The film is at times tense and suspenseful, playing like a thriller as opposed to a social-issue documentary as activists conduct undercover investigations of factories suspected of using child labor. But it can also be heartbreaking, as a child saved from a trafficker struggles to adjust to his new surroundings in a center as he waits to be reunited with his parents.
Below is an interview with Nobel Peace Prize laureate and participant in the documentary Kailash Satyarthi, for The Aerogram.
How did you meet the filmmakers and what made you want to participate in the film?
On the day I was receiving my Nobel prize in Oslo. Davis Guggenheim was present there and he met me and called up his colleagues that he wanted to make this story. That began this conversation. They did lots of research for months and then began filming. We were approached by other filmmakers in India but since this film was already in the making and we were engaged in it, there was no option so we said no to them.
The end of the film asks the audience to boycott companies that use child labor. Are there any specific policies or laws that governments can implement as well?
I’m not against any company or industry. I am against the evil. From whatever source they know that there is any child labor or trafficking they have to clear it immediately. They have to take moral responsibilities. They have to listen to the voices and demands of consumers. Also [they have to] want to demand a child labor free world. That consciousness amongst consumers is growing.
How do you not let fear stop you from doing your work?
I always know that it’s very dangerous. It’s very risky. I’m fighting against mafia and criminals who are making huge profit off of slavery in trafficking children. This is a direct fight against their earnings. I always believe that if we have faith in something in some value and virtue and this will always happen in justice, for freedom in my case. So if we have to ensure freedom in the lives of hundreds of millions of people and particularly children then we should get rid of fear in our personal life and professional life.
What are the next steps for your work after this film comes out? What are you hoping the film accomplishes?
The film will help in creating a worldwide awareness about this problem because many people think that slavery has been abolished. The situations which they see in the film will be shocking for them. The film will give a very strong message that the abolition of slavery and child labor is within our reach. We have seen how the numbers have gone down globally in the last 12-18 years. The message is loud and clear in the film that if nine out of ten children are free and able to go to school and build their future than why is one left out? The film is the journey of optimism and hope. It is the moral responsibility as consumers as citizens as human beings that we cannot buy products made by child labor.
What are some of the reasons companies use child labor?
It is basically the pull factor. There are several push factors like poverty, the caste system in India, greediness of employers. They know the children are vulnerable. They’re not forming unions or going on strike. Children are preferred anywhere in the world as child laborers if they are poor. Employers identify certain sections of society or certain geographical areas so there are certain source areas in some countries, and then they go and fool the parents and cheat them and make promises like, “Look if your child goes to work then he can earn a fortune,” and it does not happen. Once the child is taken away from the villages or the parents and they are taken away for slavery and then they become panicked. So it goes like that but basically the employers also know that by using child laborers they will use black money, so they put on their account books that they are using adult workers and adult wages. When children are taken away the employers get paid.
In India we have the areas like Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, those states are more vulnerable. Then these children end up in big cities Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta. There are certain areas that because of poverty in those areas and ignorance and illiteracy, social and economic backwardness for years, because of flood or drought or natural disaster, these traffickers find a playground.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Through this film we are also promoting a campaign for young people, 100 million for 100 million. One hundred million young people are victims of violence in the world. That includes child labor, refugee crisis, slavery, displacement from wars and climate change. The world has about 3 billion people under the age of 25 so that’s a huge resource. Not only for economic growth and sustainability but also for a change in the world. So I’m targeting at least 100 million young people in school, colleges, universities to become the spokespersons of 100 million. This is history’s largest campaign of young people involving youth directly. They are ready for change to prove themselves and wanted to prove themselves to humanity. I’m giving them a platform to raise awareness.