Kandahar theatre group promotes the rights of children
KANDAHAR – Large audiences in the southern province of Kandahar were recently treated to drama sketches and performances by a group of actors highlighting the importance of protecting the rights of children.
In a series of UN-supported performances in eight districts around Kandahar province, several thousand children, teachers, community elders and women attended performances by members of the Kandahar Theater and Film Group. The troupe looked to provoke thinking around child recruitment. They also spotlighted the importance of access to education for all children, as well as building a safer environment for children.
“Theatre is a very powerful tool for raising awareness,” observed Neamatullah Agah, head of Ghazi Abdullah High School in Spin Boldak district. “Parents are responsible for guiding their children, but unfortunately, and due to the negligence of some families, children are misled and used for wrong purposes,” he said.
Performers and the audiences interacted during after-show discussions to discuss key issues within the performances, including measures to protect children from unexploded ordinances, recruitment to armed forces and sexual abuse.
“Children should be in school and protected from being used in criminal and sexual activities,” said a youthful audience member, Shafiullah, speaking in Shah Wali Kot district. “Those people making children dance as Bacha Bazi must be punished.”
Bacha Bazi, criminalized in Afghanistan’s new penal code, is a harmful practice whereby men use boys for sexual entertainment. The boys are forced to dance, often in female clothes and subjected to sexual violence.
The impact of Afghanistan’s violent conflict on children, youth and their families has been catastrophic. Thousands of children have been killed, injured, maimed, and displaced during the last decade. As many as 631 children have been killed and 1,830 injured in the conflict between January and September 2019, according to UNAMA’s latest Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict.
Kandahar province is one of the most volatile with a particularly challenging security situation, leaving thousands of children and families displaced. Many have been pushed into deeper poverty with no access to employment, along with other essential services such as health and education. The situation is particularly dire in remote and rural districts.
Facilitated by UNAMA’s regional offices in Kandahar, the performances in Shah Wali Kot, Panjwai, Spin Boldak, Maiwand, Dand, Daman, Arghandab and Zhary districts were part of a series of outreach initiatives aimed at creating opportunities using radio, television and social media for local communities to engage in dialogue on pressing issues affecting them. The Kandahar Theatre and Film Group gives performances on a variety of public service topics in Kandahar, along with the neighboring provinces of Helmand, Zabul and Uruzgan.
Under its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.
UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.