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In an Indian slum area, a beautiful photo for an ugly story

February 29, 2012 |  6:25 pm

A slum area in Mumbai, India

Every day on World Now, we choose a striking photo from around the world. Today we stumbled upon this unusual shot of a little girl in India sitting on metal rods outside her home in a Mumbai slum.

It is a beautiful photo from the Associated Press, meant to be paired with an ugly story. UNICEF recently released its annual report on children worldwide, lamenting that many urban children are sent to work.

The Times' Robyn Dixon recently reported that according to UNICEF, millions of urban children live in slums and shantytowns, dying of hunger, diarrhea and disease caused by poor sanitation.

Dixon wrote that they could be seen night and day "in nearly every African city":

They are ragged children dodging between the cars: beggars, shoeshine boys, teenage prostitutes, petty traders and porters carrying loads on their heads with thin, pinched faces and anxious eyes. They tap on car windows, begging, and wait by the highway desperate to sell their goods.

The problem isn't confined to Africa. An estimated 115 million children worldwide toil in dangerous jobs, the UNICEF report found. In India specifically, 12% of children ages 5 to 14 are at work, even though India has passed a Right to Education Act.

UNICEF argues that the plight of children in urban slums has been overlooked:

The hardships endured by children in poor urban communities are often concealed, and thus perpetuated, by the statistical averages on which development programs and decisions about resource allocation are based. Because averages lump everyone in together, the poverty of some is obscured by the wealth of others.

“Urbanization is a fact of life and we must invest more in cities, focusing greater attention on providing services to the children in greatest need,” UNICEF Director Anthony Lake said in a statement.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: A child sits on metal rods outside her home in a slum area in Mumbai, India, Wednesday. Credit: Rajanish Kakade / Associated Press

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