A DEBATE has erupted over a pregnant 12-year-old Zambian girl who was made to wear “sexy” clothes by a Finnish designer who took the pictures.
The story, which has drawn mixed feelings on social media, is one that cannot be ignored.
Social media pundits and various women have condemned the act, saying the child – identified as Fridah – had been set up to be exploited by those that arranged the photo shoot.
Others are worried that while Plan International got a prize for the “abusive campaign”, Fridah was not paid at all.
Zambian actress and radio presenter Lungowe Simbotwe was among the first to register her displeasure on social media.
“A pregnant 12-year-old Zambian girl, Fridah, was made to wear sexy clothes by a Finnish designer and took romantic pictures of her by a Finnish photographer, went back to Finland and created a campaign against child pregnancy. The young girl was made to pose sexually in the manner of fashion photography. They produced romanticised pictures of child pregnancy for the campaign to shock Finnish audiences, so these images of a pregnant 12-year-old African child were exposed and exhibited at bus stops, in the window of shops etc in Finland. Fridah and her family were not paid anything; even the clothes they gave her to wear they got them back afterwards. Plan even got a prize for this abusive campaign. This is unacceptable,” stated Simbotwe.
Others said the campaign did not look like it was against child pregnancies but more about making money at the expense of the innocent child.
SahWira Africa International founded by a Zambian in Finland Dr Faith Mkwesha and allies got together and demonstrated in Helsinki a few weeks ago.
However, Plan refused to apologize and give back the prize, which was what the demonstrators demanded.
They had been challenging the Finnish branch of Plan International, a “development and humanitarian organisation” that is supposed to advance children’s rights and equality for girls.
Plan Finland created a campaign against child pregnancy and to do so, they had Finnish designer Paola Suhonen create a line of clothing for pregnant children.
They then found Fridah, a 12-year-old Zambian who is pregnant, made her wear the clothes, that they unfortunately took back afterwards and had Finnish photographer Meeri Koutaniemi take pictures of her.
Commenting on the campaign, Dr Mkwesha said, “I urge you to ask yourselves these questions: Why was I not immediately outraged when I saw the 12-year-old black African, heavily pregnant girl-child, Fridah, posing in pastel-coloured maternity clothes, in quite a sensual manner, in the Plan International Finland campaign advertisements meant to raise awareness about child pregnancies, placed on billboards, streets and public transport spaces all over Finland? Why was I not outraged when I found out that two white women, the Finnish fashion designer and film director Paola Suhonen, and renowned photographer and photojournalist Meeri Koutaniemi went to Zambia, Africa, to shoot photos and videos of the traumatised black girl-child meant to cater for the white European gaze?”