It created a campaign aimed at showing the world the growing problem of child labor. Similar to it's "We on Death Row" campaign, these ads try to humanize the issue so that people don't assume it's something they don't have to deal with. When you look at the faces of these children, it suddenly becomes real. You feel like they could be your kids.
Just to clarify, we're not talking about kids with paper routes or kids who help their parents in a family-owned store after school. We're talking about hard, physical labor done by children 12 and under for eight to 12 hours a day, for little money. We're talking about young children of both genders standing on street corners in the wrong areas of town prostituting themselves.
For this campaign, instead of Oliviero Toscani, Benetton hired Jean-Pierre Laffont, a top photojournalist and U.S. correspondent of Sygma Photo Agency, to shoot the images. He went from Mauritania to Thailand across Egypt, Turkey, India, the Philippines and Latin America to document the state of child labor in the world (5).
After shooting the images for Benetton, Laffont tried to sell his images to many of the leading international publications, but most seemed uninterested.
"Curiously the leading international magazines have shown little interest in the photographs, and considered them too sad but mostly too telling. It is a real pity! Before embarking on my journey I read the Declaration of Rights of Children. I can honestly testify that in every country I visited the children's rights are totally and blatantly violated.
Because of an internationally recognized standard of 13-year-olds being considered "young adults," Laffont chose not to photograph anyone over the age of 12 (5).
Laffont, along with the Benetton company, was in a state of utter shock and disbelief at the state of affairs in the world, then nearing the end of the 20th century and almost 40 years after the adoption of the Declaration of Rights of the Child, and more children were at work than ever before. He later remarked, "There we are at the end of the XXth century with over 52 million children at work and in the rather obvious words of the international Bureau of Labor based in Geneva, this is only the 'tip of the iceberg.'...(5)"