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At a glance: Spain

Spain’s ‘El País Semanal’ issues special photo edition on child rights

© David Lopez Espada
Spanish photographer Isabel Muñoz at a photo shoot with Sebastián Alonso, 13, who lives a life of poverty and daily instability in Colombia but has received strong support from the community.

In the run-up to 20 November 2009, the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF is featuring a series of stories about this landmark international agreement on the basic human rights of all children – including progress made and challenges that remain. Here is one of those stories.

MADRID, SPAIN, 19 November 2009 – For the past six months, Spanish photographer Isabel Muñoz has been traveling around the world, taking photos of children.

What these children have in common is far deeper than their differences: They have human rights granted by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – rights that have still not been fully achieved.

From Nohou, an orphan in Niger who spends his days with local gangs, to Auma in Uganda, whose dream of becoming a doctor was derailed when she was recruited by the Lord’s Resistance Army, Ms. Muñoz’s lens is trained on injustice.

UNICEF and ‘El País Semanal’
Ms. Muñoz’s photographs are the result of a collaboration between UNICEF, the Spanish National Committee for UNICEF and ‘El País Semanal’, a weekly Spanish magazine that is dedicating a special edition to child rights.

“To mark the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ‘El País Semanal’ has dedicated a whole issue to show the present situation of children, to celebrate the existence of the Convention and to remember there is still a lot of work to do to ensure the full observance of all the rights for all the children”, says Spanish National Committee for UNICEF Executive Director Paloma Escudero. “This is a collaboration with no precedent.”

Ms. Muñoz has previously photographed Central American gang members and victims of child exploitation in South Asia. 

‘Honesty in their gaze’
“It has been a transforming experience to be face-to-face with these children and to have the chance to listen with the eyes of the camera what they had to tell me,” she says. “They are so deeply sincere. There is so much honesty in their gaze.”

‘El País Semanal’ will feature photographs of 20 of the children and tell the stories of each of their lives as they relate to child rights. Three of the stories are excerpted here. For more photographs and stories (in Spanish), please visit the ‘El País Semanal’ website.

© Isabel Muñoz
Mariama Sanda, 14, who has eight brothers and sisters, works as a maid for up to 10 hours a day in Niamey, Niger.

Mariama Sanda, 14, lives in a slum on the outskirts of Niamey, Niger. Every day, she rises at dawn to travel into the city where she works as a maid. Her monthly salary of about $13 supports her eight brothers and siblings, her mother and her elderly stepfather.

“The girls living in the house where I work are older than me,” says Mariama. “They go to school. Sometimes I look at them and I would like to be in their place. I would very much like it.

“It is not that I like my job,” she adds. “This is the only thing I can do if my family wants to eat every day. I have never been to school. I would love to, but I need to work. Sometimes, it’s too hard, but I have learnt to be patient.”

© Isabel Muñoz
Ronny Mai, 15, spends most of his free time advocating for child rights in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Ronny Mai, 15, spends most of his free time advocating for child rights as a UNICEF volunteer in Karlsruhe, Germany, where he lives.

Ronny, who attends a school for children with psychological disabilities, goes to other schools to help educate his peers about their rights. His activities help others, but they also help him develop his self-confidence.

As a young boy, Ronny spoke at a press conference held by UNICEF and the National Coalition for Children’s Rights in Berlin, together with the Vice President of the German Bundestag.

© Isabel Muñoz
Sita Tamang, 11, has been working as a domestic servant in Nepal since she was six.

Sita Tamang, 11, works as domestic for a couple with a seven-year-old son in Biratnagar, Nepal. The city is more than 300 km from her family’s home in the hills of Sarlahi.

Sita came to Biratnagar at the age of six to work. Sita had not returned home in six years, but recently she was to be picked up by her father and taken back to Sarlahi. Her family had not forgotten her, after all.



CRC @ 20

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