A participatory theatre to put an end to child marriage in Kwilu

child mariage in Kwilu UNICEF DRCPHOTO STORY- In Sampiere, a small village to the east of Bandundu, people gathered to follow a comedy about the fight against child marriage in Kwilu. A unique photo report.

Actors fighting child marriage in Kwilu

Nearly all the village of Sampiere, a small locality at 80 km East of Bandundu city in the province of Kwilu, met late this afternoon under a large mango tree to welcome the actors who came to give a performance on the topic of child marriage in Kwilu. The actors, five men and three women, are all residents of the village and express themselves in the local dialect, the Yansi. Dressed in easily identifiable beige outfits, they approach parading through the gathered audience, then start singing and dancing while clapping their hands. Their enthusiasm is quickly passed to the public who starts to sing along.

child marriage in Kwilu, Sampire people

Between theatre and reality to combat child marriage in Kwilu

Then the show starts. In a family with two children, the girl was kicked out of school because she has not paid the school fees. She asks her father for money who answers her: “I have no money, and in any case, your place is destined for marriage!”. The girl leaves the scene and her brother arrives. He was also kicked out of school. He goes before his father who gives him money and tells him: “do not tell your sister!”. In the following scene, the father returns home happy; he found a rich widowed person ready to marry his daughter. He announces the news to his wife who is furious because she wished for her daughter to continue her studies.

A participatory theatre to put an end to child marriage in Kwilu

A debate begins and continues among the audience. The actors are taken to task. “You are right to marry your daughter”, reacts a man from the audience, “but the consequences can be serious. If your daughter dies in childbirth, then you will have lost her for money. Is this worth it?”. The audience seems divided.

people react about theatre a child marriage in Kwilu

Discussion as a first step to changing mentalities

People can laugh, but they retain something from the show”, commented Tara Mutanga, one of the actors. “Our goal is to provoke reactions, to incite a debate, and to make our neighbors think about gender issues”. Those are often taboo issues, which are rarely debated or even expressed in public. In the days following the performance, community organizers will take turns organizing educational talks on the topics covered in the show.

theatre to combat child marriage in Kwilu

Those community organizers are trained by the NGO NDJF (Nouvelle Dynamique de la Jeunesse Féminine, the New Dynamics for Female Youth) a partner of the association CANACU (Communauté des Amis de la Nature et de la Culture, the Community of the Friends of Nature and the Culture), which organizes theatrical performances. Both organizations are supported by the European Union.

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Women and men, progressing together

Through the ‘’Men and women moving forward together ‘’ programme, UNICEF and the Ministry of Gender, Family and Children’s affairs, with funding from the European Union, wish to act on all types of gender based violence and their root causes.

Learn more about child marriage in DRC

Meeting Champions against child marriage in DRC

Arts en Action presents a musical about child marriage

Photo: UNICEF RDC 2016 Dubourthoumieu

Translated from French by Dorsaf James

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Gwenn Dubourthoumieu

Gwenn Dubourthoumieu s’est intéressé à la photographie alors qu’il travaillait en Afrique pour des ONG humanitaires. Professionnel depuis avril 2010, son travail est régulièrement récompensé. Il travaille régulièrement pour UNICEF RDC en tant que consultant photographique.

Gwenn Dubourthoumieu became interested in photography while working in Africa for humanitarian NGOs. Professional since 2010, his work is regularly rewarded.  He's a photography consultant for UNICEF DRC.

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