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Interview with Shaina Low

Where are you from? 

 I grew up in the suburbs of Boston, but have spent the last decade living in Brooklyn.


What field of work are you in?

Human Rights Advocacy 


Tell us a little bit more about your job?

For the last two and a half years, I’ve worked as an advocacy officer at Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP). We’re an independent, local Palestinian human rights organization dedicated to defending and promoting the rights of Palestinian children living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. I’m one of a handful of non-Palestinian staff and focus on international advocacy, primarily in the U.S., Canada, and the U.N.

We defend children’s rights by offering free legal aid, documenting violations of international law, and advocating for greater protections. We document a huge range of human rights violations committed against Palestinian children—fatalities and injuries, ill-treatment and torture of child prisoners, home demolitions, denial of access to medical care, and attacks on schools—and work to hold those responsible for them accountable.   


What do you love about the work you do?

It may sound cliché, but I love that I get to spend my days working to improve children’s lives. Since my first visit to Palestine in 2008, I’ve been committed exposing others the realities of life under military occupation and the impact of 70+ years of Palestinian displacement and dispossession. I’m lucky that I get to spend my days working on an issue that I feel so passionate about,  educating elected officials, policy makers, and the grassroots about the issues affecting Palestinian children and the ways that they can make a difference .


What’s the most challenging part of your work?

It can be emotionally exhausting to spend your days immersed in reading about children’s suffering. But, if the stories we document didn’t impact me on a personal, it would be a sign that I should stop doing this work. 


Number 1 accomplishment this year? 

Last year, we mobilized over 16,000 supporters to sign a petition calling for the immediate release of all Palestinian child detainees being held in Israeli prisons. 

 Each year, Israel prosecutes between 500-700 Palestinian children in military courts that lack fundamental fair trial rights and protections. Nearly all children are denied bail and held in pre-trial detention, meaning that they’re imprisoned until their case is adjudicated.

 Palestinian child detainees live in close proximity to each other, often in compromised sanitary conditions and with limited access to resources to maintain minimum hygiene routines. 

Knowing that there was no way Israeli prison authorities could ensure the health and well-being of the children in their custody, we called for the release of all children and a moratorium on their arrests. A number of other NGOs and UN agencies later echoed our call.  


How can our community get involved (resources, donating, reading, etc..) 

For years, we’ve been partnering with the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization, on the No Way to Treat a Child campaign, which focuses on Palestinian children who are prosecuted in Israel’s military courts. 

In the U.S., we’ve worked with Congresswoman Betty McCollum who has introduced legislation that seeks to hold Israel and other countries accountable for violating children’s rights. These bills provide constituents with a vehicle to speak to their Members of Congress about Palestinian human rights and shift the discourse on Capitol Hill. We’re hoping Rep. McCollum’s new bill will be introduced in the coming months.


Favorite way to unwind after a long day? 

After sitting in front of a computer all day, I like to find ways to use my hands and keep them busy, whether that’s tending to my rooftop vegetable garden, cooking and sharing recipes with my sisters, or working on home improvements. I also recently completed my first piece of Palestinian embroidery (tatreez).