Taking Detention out of Palestinian Children

The project is unique in that it gathers the energy and commitment of a group of partner organizations in the Hebron Governorate to foster a professional dialogue dynamics necessary for improving the psychosocial well being of Palestinian children who have just been released from detention in Israeli prisons.

Administrative detention, or detention without charge or trial for periods of 3 months, which may be renewed indefinitely, is a major source of trauma for both the detainees and the community as a whole.

As of May 2014 there were 196 child prisoners with 27 under the age of 16 in Israeli prisons, where they are also denied family visits. The proposed intervention addresses the trauma suffered by the detainees and their families and communities by working with an array of activities based on theatre and drama, aimed at promoting healthy psychosocial development.

CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

The specific objective: “Establish a Communication Strategy based on theatre and drama to provide innovative
and creative means of addressing coping mechanisms needed to meet the psychosocial, cognitive and personal needs of Palestinian children and youth (ex-detainees), their families and the whole community”.

HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED

An advocacy campaign was designed to sensitize the local and international communities to the problems of Palestinian children in general, with a special focus on child detainees and ex-detainees. The theatrical productions will be used as one of the primary advocacy tools. In addition, advocacy and lobbying, directed at relevant ministries, will be implemented to influence policies, national strategic plans and funding. Meetings to advocate for the project goals will be held with the different Palestinian ministries. The Ministries and decision-making bodies are an
important group that is directly involved in this action of area.

Studies and research on the legal, social and health implications for detainees and ex-detainees will be created through the action. Play tours will be arranged outside the country to raise aware and involve the international community in solving this problem.

CAMPAIGN INNOVATIONS

There are multiple aspects that ensured its success. Firstly, the project makes a concentrated effort to make theatre and drama an acceptable, simple and cost-effective tool that can be used by a local community to improve the psychosocial wellbeing of ex-detained children, youth and the wider community.

Secondly, the project is structured to sensitize the local and international communities to this critical problem.

Thirdly, the project creates social discussion that can lead to the establishment of social forums that will assume the
responsibility to protect Palestinian children from any harm.

Finally, the project can be seen as a positive force, as a change agent providing innovative approaches to the addressed problems.

CAMPAIGN IMPACT

The local community is not aware of the problems of detained and ex-detained children in Palestine. Child ex-detainees and their families are exposed to a variety of psychological, social and economic stressors as a result of the detention experience.

These include psychosocial
problems among children, their social exclusion and the inability of child ex-detainees to return back to school and communicate with their peers, who have not had a similar experience to being
arrested.

Girls and boys who have been detained in Israeli prisons are extremely marginalized since there is a scarcity in service providers and limited resources. Furthermore, the Palestinian Ministry of Education and the Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-detainees Affairs don’t have the resources to support the re-integration of girls and boys back into their societies after release.

This project is contributing effectively to the overcoming of the aforementioned challenges.

CHALLENGES FACED

One of the biggest changes in the social structure patterns is the introduction of the Right-Based approach. The core theme of this approach is ensuring the accountability and responsibilities of the duty-bearers are upheld.

Development is not regarded as an optional activity; it is deeply embedded in the responsibilities of the duty-bearers. Government departments and other duty-bearers have a mandatory duty to protect the basic rights of individuals. When those rights include such things as education, governments must provide schools and teachers with tools to deal with the realities that communities face.

Yes Theatre and its partners believe that Rights Based approaches don’t regard psychosocial interventions as optional activities, provided through generosity, but as specific interventions that must be provided or further protected
(as agreed by the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian Ministry of Health in its strategic plan regarding psychosocial well-being).

LESSONS LEARNT

Theatre and drama is an effective tool to raise awareness and advocate for people to be involved.