Local Theatre Play Showcasing Children’s Rights in Balkh for 75 People

Live theatres on various legal topics have become popular in Afghanistan’s northern provinces
Today, 75 citizen from Nahr-e-Shahi district in Balkh province attended the 19th legal awareness theatre focusing on children’s rights. The Afghan civil society organisation Services Organization for Unity and Development (SOUND) organised the theatre, funded by the Afghan-German Cooperation’s project for the promotion of the rule of law (RoL).

Although Afghanistan has committed itself to protect children’s rights by ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994, there are still many barriers hindering children from actually enjoying their rights. Poverty, homelessness, abuse, neglect, preventable diseases as well as unequal access to education are still common. To protect Afghanistan’s children from such adverse effects, it is therefore important to inform the communities about children’s rights and their promotion. To spread this information widely, the plays also target remote village communities.

One local Imam, Ghulam Muhammad, said: “The theatre play was a good method of awareness raising and very easy for people to understand. Underage and forced marriage is a crucial problem in our community. It is up to us to support such a programme for informing people correctly.”

Today’s show aimed at promoting children’s rights by addressing an everyday situation: The play displayed negative impacts and consequences of underage marriages presented via a father forcing his underage daughter to find money and to marry her brother. Both children however speak out, telling their father that their education should come first. Finally, supported by the community elder, they convince the father to cancel the wedding.

The plays do not only entertain the audience, but also provide information about children’s rights, encouraging everyone to share impressions in their communities.

Ali, a 10 years old child, curiously watched the play. He pointed out: "I should not get married before being 18 years old. I should be wise and finish school. In case my father attempts to marry my sister to anyone who is not accepted by her, I will ask him to please not do so, since it would be harmful to her and against law and Sharia. In addition, my sister would not be able to continue her education."

In coordination with district governors and related departments, SOUND has been conducting a series of theatres in Balkh and Samangan since December 2016, reaching around 1.000 people. Promoting children’s rights is among the Afghan-German Cooperation’s priorities.

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Afghan-German Cooperation has been working with the Afghan government to promote rule of law (RoL) in Afghanistan. The civil society component of the programme focuses on strengthening the links between civil society actors and the Afghan Government as well as capacity building for civil society actors. Relevant legal topics such as children’s rights, legal awareness and corruption are addressed by civil society organisations that are supported by RoL.