A step closer to freedom, Part II
Yeshi Gyeltshen, ParoAug 2 2013
The 52 female prisoners who were sent to Dawakha in Paro as part of the open air prison programme have settled down and reliving their lives again. “It is as good as getting back to the society where we belong,” said one of the prisoners. It has been only three weeks and they said they have already started to experience a normal life.
The women work in gardens. They were given basic training from the agricultural officials. The open air inmates said their lives have changed. “Life here is much better than life in jail. We feel at home here. We can meet our husband and children and rebuild our family,” said one of them.
Being ostracised by family and friends were one of their main concerns. “But now we are reconnecting with them. And we will be able to get back into society. So it’s a big change for us,” said another.
Dorji (name changed) remembers: “In jail, we didn’t get to see our family and when we did we had to talk with them from behind the bars. We couldn’t even eat the food they brought us.
“But here, we can freely meet our family, and even eat meals together,” she added.
The inmates spend most of their time in the vegetable gardens. One can also see them knitting. One day, they will complete their prison term and as expected lead a life away from prison.
The project was initiated by the Royal Bhutan Police in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, upon the command of His Majesty the King. The women would be making an honest living until their prison terms come to an end.
It is also being done to help integrate into the society slowly. As part of the new project, the inmates will be engaged in the production of organic vegetables under mechanized farming. The produce will be marketed and income will be given back to them once they are released.