Bihar, India: Unicef double standards on child labour Print E-mail

Chunchun Kumari, also known as Chuhia "not our brand ambassador. She is just there on our posters"


Wednesday November 22, page 11



Tuesday November 21, 2006

Unicef poster girl works in dhaba

Patna, Nov. 20: A poster girl of the UN Children’s Fund in its campaign against child labour still has to work at a roadside dhaba in Patna for two square meals a day. Chunchun Kumari, also know as Chuhia, who appears on Unicef’s posters splashed on walls across Bihar calling for an end to child labour in the country, is hard at work in the dhaba all day. Chuhia was photographed by some Unicef representatives recently and reportedly given an assurance that she would be paid some money for appearing in the poster and would not have to work any more.

Unicef had launched a nationwide campaign on October 10 this year to coincide with the total ban announced by the Union government on the employment of children at both homes and commercial establishments.  “My parents are poor and so am I. I have no other option but to help them out and earn some money for the entire family,” Chuhia says in an extremely matter-of-fact tone.

Her father Baleswar Prasad said that some people from Unicef had approached him over a month back, and said they were working on the campaign to abolish child labour. “They photographed my daughter and assured that everything would be all right. She would not have to work any more and we would get something for getting my daughter photographed. But after they had left, no one came with any kind of help for us,” he said in Patna.

Unicef is now trying to distance itself from the matter. The UN agency’s communications officer for Bihar, Mr Anupam Srivastava, denies that any “monetary help” was promised to the girl’s father in return for taking her picture for its anti-child labour campaign. “She is not our brand ambassador. She is just there on our posters,” he said. But whether she is Unicef’s brand ambassador or “just” a poster girl, Chuhia has to carry on working morning to night at her dhaba.