Child protection in emergencies: Interactive popular theatre - Bangladesh

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Save the Children believes that to ensure the best interests of the child, child rights awareness raising in the community is a key activity and approach. As part of their work in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, the agency has found that the Rohingya community is quite conservative in terms of cultural norms, beliefs and ideas, therefore creative ways have been sought to engage the Rohingya. 

As part of the Australian Humanitarian Partnership funded Child Protection in Emergencies (CPiE) program, Save the Children found that Interactive Popular Theatre (IPT) could be an appropriate method to disseminate messages about child rights, violations and the consequences of such abuses. During March 2018, two IPT shows were held in Cox's Bazar focusing on child marriage and its effect. The events were attended by approximately 1,600 people.

The objectives of the IPT show:

  • Child protection awareness message disseminated to the Rohingya community though direct interaction between audience and actors,

  • to provide appropriate messages through the show that address emerging child protection issues, and

  • to empower children to participate in activities that promote and ensure their protection in the community, while providing them with an opportunity to develop skills and confidence.

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The IPT show was designed to both create awareness in the Rohingya community and involve children as key actors in communicating these messages. Save the Children formed an IPT team comprising youth and children from the Rohingya community, trained IPT actors through a local professional trainer, rehearsed, selected appropriate venues and mobilised the community to attend and participate.

I am totally impressed by the performance of our children, even I didn’t think that our children can do it nicely”, Maji from Lambasiya.

“Though I was nervous for the first time, but I have confidence that I can perform properly on the stage and I go through the inclusive rehearsal for acting as a main character in this IPT. Now I am happy that we all together make it successful”, IPT performer.

IPT has proved to be an effective medium to deliver messages on child protection in the camps. In these contexts, youth can be neglected and face increasing risks everyday including child labour, early marriage and limited access to education and recreational activities. The IPT groups have provided an opportunity for youth to participate in age-appropriate activities and involve them as actors, ensuring their protection as well as the well-being of other children in the camp. The IPTs may also prevent children engaging in negative coping mechanisms and self-protection strategies.

Save the Children plans to continue conducting similar IPT sessions in other zones of Cox's Bazar. Three groups will be formed, and at least 10 shows performed. It is hoped that children and youth within the IPT groups will serve as change makers, and inspire their community to uphold protection needs, which will guarantee their survival and development.

Date of article: March 2018

In 2017, Save the Children received $3 million through the AHP to assist in responding to the Myanmar-Bangladesh crisis. The length of the AHP response is October 2017 until September 2018.