Legal Culture through Street Theaters

There is a rural family of four people. Both parents are not working and there is no a single day without a quarrel in the family. The disability status of the elder daughter is not legally confirmed; otherwise, she would be entitled to a pension. Despite her great desire to learn, she cannot attend school and lives her life confined to a wheelchair. The younger daughter cannot get to the kindergarten. All this is due to the fact that the marriage is not registered and children do not have birth certificates.

To get state benefits for children, their mother decides to seek help from a member of a human rights organization recently opened in the village. Having applied to this organization she manages to solve all her problems and finally becomes a volunteer of this NGO helping other people with similar problems.

Senior class pupils from four rural schools present the most typical legal problems faced by the rural population and show possible solutions within the law. By organizing such a unique event, schools of two Ayil Aymaks of the Nookat rayon of the Osh oblast try to solve simultaneously several problems.

Legal awareness does not come to a human being at once. When social and family life of people has been for centuries based on traditions rather than on the law, the implementation of any legal norms becomes even more complicated. In order to increase the legal awareness in the rural areas, the UNDP project “Widening access to justice in the Kyrgyz Republic” has initiated the intervention in the form of street theaters being aware of this national specificity.

Firstly, in preparing street performances the participants themselves acquire knowledge and skills in legal matters, which they might need in their future. Secondly, the audience of the street theaters also receives relevant and practical knowledge in the legal issues. Thirdly, all the problems and events presented in the theatrical performances were taken from the daily life of the rural population and were shown in conjunction with the traditions and mentality of the people that ultimately may be an effective practice to raise the legal culture of the citizens.

The audience was shown four performances on addressing typical legal problems faced by villagers especially the vulnerable ones. The first presentation was called “The trap of indifference or unprotected rights”.

The second performance entitled “The right of a child to education” shows a case when a father does not allow his child to go to school due to the need to work on the farm; this is typical for destinies of thousands of children deprived of their right to education. It describes ways and means of effective implementation of the legislation to solve the problems of thousands of children who do not attend school.

The third performance entitled “The destiny of a young girl who was subject to kidnapping” demonstrates the life of the victim of this quite popular phenomenon in the society and its tragic consequences which resulted in a suicide. The fourth performance was entitled by the schoolchildren as “Protecting the rights of minors”. In a touching manner it demonstrates the destiny of a child whose parents went to work abroad and left the child with their relatives. The topics such as exploiting the under age child labor, deprivation of parental and custodian rights, the obligation of the state to protect the rights and freedoms of children constituted an attempt to find solutions to these urgent problems of the modern society in the realities of the rural life. The solution was found not in the law but in the national specificity which has the category of conscience. This means that the situation in the legislation is far from being perfect.

This performance covers the lives of hundreds of thousands of our young citizens, whose parents are forced to wander in foreign countries; it was given the first place by the special jury and the organizers were awarded with a valuable prize. Actually prizes were given to all the participants. The main achievement of this initiative was that all people have accumulated certain experience, and this allows the successful continuation of this endeavor in the future.

The organizers of street theaters used a creative approach to the activities within the framework of the international project, all the problems were presented through concrete and typical facts of life of rural residents, taking into account their mentality and psychology, the presentations were accompanied by poetry and songs. This contributed to easier and more efficient perception of the conceived message, for many people the performances were rather a holiday than a formal action. Broad participation of teachers and senior class pupils in the organization can provide the proper impact on people’s mindsets in the future.

Meri Bekeshova, Communication specialist of UNDP project “Widening Access to Justice in the KR”,
Photo Credit: Sharabidin Tairov, Osh oblast expert of the project “Widening Access to Justice in the KR”

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