The Price of Free

The Price of Free is a thrilling look at Kailash Satyarthi's inspiring efforts to free every child from slavery. The film won the 2018 U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Watch the Film

Learn more about child labor

How does child labor relate to me?

While child labor may not be directly visible in your day-to-day life, you may be surprised to learn that dozens of the things you own and goods you consume could have been made by the hands of a child. Consider this — within the first hour you’re awake, the coffee you drink, the shirt you put on or the makeup you use may all have been made by child labor. Other products at risk include your sugar, chocolate, cellphone, gold jewelry, toys, leather goods, shoes, and more.

Child labor also relates to you because Kailash Satyarthi firmly believes that each of us has a vital role to play in helping to end it. He’s started a movement on behalf of children that each of us can join by reconsidering our own consumption choices and motivating companies and governments to act on behalf of children.

How can I be sure that the things I buy are child labor free?

The unsatisfying answer is that at this point in time, it’s very hard to be certain about what is and is not made with child labor. Child labor is often hidden deep within supply chains. In the future, we may have reliable certification schemes backed by technology to ensure that goods are made without child labor. For now, we do know that we can rely on certifications such as GoodWeave (formerly Rugmark), which ensures that their products have not been made by children.

Because traceability in complex supply chains still needs improvement, one of the best things you can do is to ask the companies you buy from if they are child labor free. Take action here.

Are cheap goods the only red flag for consumers?

Unfortunately, no. There is not always a direct relationship between retail price and working conditions. As consumers, it is an important first step to question the origins of very cheap products, but we should also bear in mind that higher-priced goods may be made under the exact same factory conditions as cheaper products. Often factory wages account for a very small percentage of the final retail price. The retail cost may instead be driven by materials, taxes, transportation and other costs – or simply a higher profit margin.

When it comes to child labor, it’s important to note that certain tasks in the assembly process may specifically target children; namely, embellishment work, such as beading, sequins, and embroidery. Simply put, clothes with embellishments may be more likely to have been produced with child labor, regardless of retail price.

What can companies do?

Take a look at the child labor action plan:

1

Educate

your employees on child labor and forced labor laws and practices around the world so they can make more informed decisions about suppliers and purchasing.

2

Audit your supply chains

by mapping and publicly disclosing your tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers.

3

Assess your child labor risks

using the Responsible Sourcing Tool at responsiblesourcingtool.org.

4

Develop a code of conduct

based on ILO Conventions and national labor laws and enforce it through regular supplier assessments. The US Department of Labor also has a step-by-step tool to help develop a social compliance system called Comply Chain at dol.gov/ilab/complychain/.

5

Partner with experts

including consultants and organizations — such as the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, the ILO and the OECD — to get practical support for identifying, preventing or mitigating child labor in your supply chains.

6

Fund child-friendly villages in India

through the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation to address the root causes of child labor.

Free to be a child

The Price of Free is a glimpse into the story of Kailash Satyarthi, who has helped to give more than 88,000 children a brighter future. Here are a few of the children he has helped save from labor and slavery.

Devli

Devli was rescued from a stone quarry. Later, she was selected to speak at the "Education for All: Class of 2015" United Nations Summit.

Subham

Subham was rescued from working as a laborer in a hotel. Today he is an assistant engineer at the Power Grid Corporation of India Gurgaon.

Amar Lal

Amar Lal was rescued from day labor. He is now in his final year of law school.

Tell America's top 100 retail brands we need their help to free more children from child labor:

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