Rebibbia, football match between mothers in prison and their children: “No more children in prison, now Parliament approves the law”

Jade could not sleep. Too much euphoria, too much impatience to hug Gabriel, his ten-year-old son, whom he had not seen for four months. “Between school commitments and restrictions it was complex, but when I knew we would they played football together he was excited. He won’t have fallen asleep tonight either. I can’t wait for it to arrive, “he said. His gaze is already on the door of the ‘green zone’ of the Rebibbia Women’s Prison in Romewhere you enter the football field 5 of synthetic turf of the penitentiary center.

It is in this field, specifically until last December (then modernized and recently inaugurated thanks to the contributions of the Lazio region and the collaboration of the Antigone association), that every Saturday afternoon from 2018 plays theSports rights, the first team in Italy made up only of inmates. “It simply came to our notice then prove that prison goes beyond prison. This is a battle for rights and also against gender stereotypes. It gives us back small spaces, but in reality big ones from everyday life “, say Giada and the other Rebibbia prisoners. Games are always played at home, because getting permission to go out to many girls is not easy. It doesn’t matter, though, at least this time.

Because from this door this time it will not be the players of the visiting team, but their children. The merit of the initiative ‘The game with the mother“, Organized by the non-profit organization Children without barsin collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, within the campaign ‘Open prisons‘. A project that will allow the meeting between parents and children imprisoned throughout the month of June, after a two-year suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “Actually, the initiative was born as”The game with the father“But we have joined the mothers,” said Alessia Giuliani, a prison educator and legal officer. Beside her are Carolina and Giorgia, who have been volunteering for Rebibbia’s prisoner team for many years: “A response to society and a rescue for many girls. Women can do anything, women like to play football, even with their children. It would seem obvious, but today we still have to repeat it “, they explain. This is also why, they say, that of the Rebibbia prisoners is also a fight against gender discrimination.

But it is also a ‘kick’ to the daily nightmare of prison, against suffering and prejudice. A way of make up for lost time, to live with your children for at least a day. “We can usually see them for interviews, but not more than an hour a week. And those minutes seem to fly by: there’s no time to even ask how it’s going, how it went at school, that I’m already out. So it’s difficult, “he said Šejla, who has fourteen children. “Six are minors, the youngest is four years old, the oldest is 26. I am in Rebibbia for a year, but should still serve 4. The reason? Robberies, they ‘forced’ me to live, there were a lot of them. Now I hope to be able to get an alternative measure, house arrest, to return them and be able to raise them “, she says, while waiting for three of her children, who have come to play with her.

She is not the only one who hopes to leave those walls, those bars soon. “When I leave, I will leave Lazio, I want to start another life. I work and clean here. But I’m afraid I won’t find a job outside, prejudices weigh heavily“Valentina explains. He has three children, and he hasn’t seen them in a long time. “Making them stay in here is inhumane, that’s why I don’t want them to come for interviews more than once a month. When the little one was less than three years old, I had the chance to stay here, but it would have been like making him pay for my mistakes, he doesn’t exist. “

That is why he is calling on Parliament to end the nightmare of children in prison: “The nursery section of this prison should be abolished, I hear them crying and shouting. It is true that instead of bars there are doors and the doors are smaller, but it is always a prison. Mothers with such young children should never enter here “, says Valentina. It is also the goal of the Pd deputy Paolo Sianifirst signatory of the a bill recently passed in Montecitoriowith the speaker Walter Veriniwhich aims to ensure that young children are not living in prison following their mothers in prison.

With 241 votes in favor and 7 against, the proposal was approved by the House, but there is still no date for approval in the Palazzo Madama Hall. And with the legislature entering the last few months, in a climate of perennial election campaign, the fear of not becoming law is real. “Prison should be the last resort, if there are alternative measures it is right to grant them, especially to inmates with young children,” claim, however, prisoners and volunteers. And the purpose of the bill is precisely that promote the family housing model, preventing cohabiting mothers with children under the age of 6 from ending up in prison. At the same time, in the face of precautionary needs of exceptional importance, recourse is also envisaged to institutions with attenuated custody for detained mothers (ICAM). The same measures are also provided for parents, if the mother is dead or is absolutely incapable of providing assistance. As anticipated by the association Antigone, the law will provide tools that the judge will then have to use “to get the result of seeing how the presence of children in the cell decreases to the maximum.” However, it would still be a turning point, requested for years: “It would be desirable that this the bill becomes law and the work done is not undone. A child cannot be raised in such facilities. Rebibbia women’s prison, although with the usual problems of overcrowding (rate equal to 123.5%, with 320 women present, ed) allows activities and outings for children. But it will never be a dimension that does not refer to something of the penitentiary center “, he explains Alessia Giuliani.

According to the latest report from the same Antigone association on the conditions of detention, a total of 31 March 2022 were 19 children children under the age of three living with their 16 mothers in a penitentiary institution: 8 housed in the institute with attenuated custody for mothers in Lauro prison, the only autonomous Icam, four inside the home section of children from the Rebibbia Women’s Prison, two children each in the ICAM of the San Vittore and Turin prisons and in the Benevento prison, and finally one in the ICAM of the Venice Women’s Penitentiary. Reduced figures, compared to those recorded in recent years, also “thanks” to the pandemic, but still present in Italian prisons, where they are imprisoned in total 2276 women, equivalent to 4.2% of the total prison population.

Parliament must act quickly. We hope that in a year’s time there will be a change and they will allow us to be with our children “, says Valentina, while embracing one of her daughters. Not more one in 100,000 children that in Italy (2.2 million in Europe) according to Bambinisenzasbarre figures, they have their father or mother in prison and risk being marginalized, “living in silence their secret as a father in prison for not to be stigmatized and excluded“.

In Rebibbia, however, there are those who, waiting for news of the law, will be able to embrace their mother again, like Gabriel. Giada will leave in six weeks, when she has finished serving her sentence: “I did a sommelier course here, I have already been offered a job by a well-known hotel chain, I will not pass up this opportunity. And finally I can go back with him “, she smiles, looking at her baby. Other women will have to wait a few more years: “I’m paying for my mistakesI told my daughter the whole truth, so that she would never go through that door unless she wanted to come in as a volunteer. ” prison is just a negative place, re-education is possible, you learn a lot. Here we work and with theAthletic straightwe have found a family “, there are those who explain, although with their minds set on tomorrow. To start again, with the kids by my side.

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