Updated: May 29
Over the past four decades, India’s largest movement to protect children, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, has rescued more than 100,000 children from slavery. Yet, the organization reports that there are still more than 151.6 million child laborers worldwide and 4.3 million of those children are engaged in forced labor.
Participants at this year’s Cinema, Human Rights and Advocacy Summer School learned more about this growing issue through an exclusive film screening of the documentary “The Price of Free,” which follows the work of Bachpan Bachao Andolan founder, Kailash Satyarthi.
After screening the film, students got an even more in-depth look at the issue through an inspiring and insightful panel conversation moderated by Picture People’s Claudia Modonesi and Nick Danziger. The panel included:
Derek Doneen, director of “The Price of Free”
Swati Jha, manager, legal-child sexual abuse cases, Bachpan Bachao Andolan Anjali Kochar, executive director, Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation US
Narendra Kumar, activist, Bachpan Bachao Andolan and former trafficked child
Manfred Nowak, secretary general, Global Campus of Human Rights
Over the course of the conversation, panelists shared with CHRA students their experiences working with trafficked children, what it was like to bring this film together and the very real consequences of child labor.
Doneen told participants about the power of storytelling in bringing such critical problems into the spotlight.
“From the moment we started conceiving the film it was a goal of ours to put a face to the issue,” he said. “We hear these harrowing numbers, and it almost feels hopeless. It almost feels so massive and out of our reach. We thought if you could spend time with [children like] Sonu, you might think of their faces next time you’re shopping at a department store or online looking for clothes.”
This message was made even more powerful by the contributions of Kumar. He shared that at 10 years old, he was taken by traffickers to work in a hotel in Nepal, where he was forced to work from 6 in the morning to 10 at night. The experience, he said, robbed him of his childhood. Now free, Kumar uses his voice to speak out against child labor and help teach children that they can safely grow and dream, and that they have rights.
While the impact of this film has been incredible so far, there’s still work to be done, and we hope this panel helped inspire CHRA Summer School participants to take up the charge.