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

Giada could not sleep. Too much euphoria, too much impatience to embrace Gabriel, her ten-year-old child, whom she had not seen in four months. “Between the commitments with the school and the restrictions, it was complex, but when he knew we would played football together he was excited. He also will not have fallen asleep tonight. I can not wait for it to come “, he says excitedly. His gaze is already turned towards the gate to the ‘green area’ Rome Rebibbia Women’s Prisonwhere you enter the probation service’s artificial turf 5-man football field.

It is on this track, in concrete until December last year (then modernized and recently inaugurated thanks to the contributions of the Lazio region and the cooperation of the Antigone Association) that every Saturday afternoon since 2018 playsAthletic rights, the first team in Italy consisting only of inmates. “It simply came to our notice then show that the prison goes beyond the prison. This is also a fight for rights and against gender stereotypes. It gives us small but actually large spaces in everyday life back, ”say Giada and the other Rebibbia prisoners. It is always played at home, because many girls are not allowed to go out. It does mean a bit, though, at least this time around.

Because from that gate, the players from the visiting team this time do not come in, but their children. Profit from the initiative ‘Played with mother“, Arranged by the non-profit organization Children without slatsin collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, within the campaign ‘Open prisons‘. A project that will enable the meeting between imprisoned parents and children throughout the month of June, after two years of suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “The initiative was actually born as”The game with dad‘, but we have joined forces with the mothers’, claims Alessia Giuliani, prison educator and legal-education officer. Next to her are Carolina and Giorgia, who for years have trained Rebibbia prisoners’ teams as volunteers: “A reaction to society and a ransom for many girls. Women know everything, women like to play football, even with their children. It would seem obvious, but today we still have to repeat it, ”they explain. Also for this reason, they claim that among the female Rebibbia prisoners is also a fight against gender discrimination.

But it is also a ‘kick’ to the prison’s daily nightmare, against suffering and prejudice. A way to compensate for the lost time, to live with your children, at least for a day. “We can usually see them for conversations, but not more than an hour a week. And those minutes seem to fly: there is not even time to ask how it is going, how it went in school that I am already gone. So it’s hard ”, it does not hold back the emotions Sailwho has fourteen children. “Six are minors, the youngest is four, the oldest is 26. It’s me in Rebibbia for a year, but I still had to earn 4. The reason? Thefts, I was ‘forced’ to live, there was a pile. Now I hope to be able to get an alternative measure, house arrest, to return to them and raise them, ”she says, waiting for three of her children, who have come to play with her.

She is not the only one hoping to leave the walls they bar soon. “When I travel, I leave Lazio, I want to start another life. Here I work and clean. But I’m afraid I will not find a job outside, prejudice weighs heavily“Explains Valentina. She has three children, she has not seen them for a long time either:”Getting them to stay in here is inhuman, therefore I do not want them to come more than once a month for talks. When the youngest was under three years old, I had the opportunity to get him to stay here, but it would have been like getting him to pay for my mistakes, he does not exist.

That is why he is launching an appeal to Parliament to put an end to the nightmare of children in prison: “The emergency room for children in this prison should be abolished, I hear them crying and screaming. It is true that instead of the bars are gates and the doors are smaller, but it is always a prison. In here, mothers with such small children should never get into it “, claims Valentina. This is also the goal of the Deputy Paolo Sianifirst sign off a bill recently approved in Montecitoriowith rapporteur Walter Veriniwhich aims to ensure that young children do not end up living in prison after mothers in prison.

With 241 votes in favor and 7 against, the proposal received the green light from the Chamber, but there is still no date for its adoption in the Chamber of Palazzo Madama. And with the Legislative Assembly now entering its final months, in a climate of multi-year election campaign, the fear that it will not be allowed is real. “Prison should be the last resort, if there are alternative measures, it is right to provide them, especially for prisoners with small children,” they claim, however, prisoners and volunteers. And the aim of the bill is precisely that promote the model of family homes, which prevents mothers with cohabiting children under the age of 6 from ending up in prison. At the same time, when there is a need for caution of extraordinary importance, it is also intended to resort to institutions with weakened custody for detained mothers (ICAM). The same measures are also intended for fathers if the mother is dead or absolutely unable to provide assistance. As expected by the association Antigone, the law will offer tools that the judge will then need “to achieve the result of seeing the presence of children in the cell decrease as much as possible”. Of course, it would still be a turning point, in demand for years: “It would be desirable that the bill becomes law and the work performed is not canceled. One cannot raise a child in facilities like these. Rebibbia Women’s Prison, albeit with the usual problems of overcrowding (rate corresponding to 123.5%, with 320 women present, ed) allows activities and excursions for children. But it will never be a dimension that does not refer to anything about the penitentiary, ”he explains Alessia Giuliani.

According to the latest report from the same Antigone association on the conditions of detention, they were in total per. March 31, 2022 19 children under three years living with their 16 mothers in a penitentiary institution: 8 placed in the institution with impaired custody for mothers in the prison in Lauro, the only autonomous Icam, four just inside the nursery ward in the Prison of Female Rebibbia, two children each in ICAM ‘s inside the San Vittore and Turin prisons and in the Benevento prison, and finally one inside the ICAM in the Venice Female Prison House. Reduced numbers 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, corresponding to 4.2% of the total prison population.

Parliament must act quickly. We hope that within the year there will be a change and they will give us the opportunity to be with our children “, claims Valentina, while she hugs one of her daughters. Only one of the 100,000 children as in Italy (2.2 million in Europe) according to the number of Bambinisenzasbarre have their father or mother in prison and risk ending up being marginalized, “to live in silence their secret as a parent in prison for not to be stigmatized and excluded“.

In Rebibbia, however, there are those who, pending news of the law, will already be able to hug their mother again, just like Gabriel. Giada will be out in six weeks when she has finished serving her sentence: “Here I took a course as a sommelier, I have already been offered a job by a well-known hotel chain, I will not miss this opportunity. And finally I will be able to return to him ”, she smiles with her baby’s face. Other women have to wait a few more years: “I pay for my mistakes“I told my daughter the whole truth so she never crosses this gate unless she wants to come in as a volunteer.” Despite the difficulties, there are those who do not forget that they have been given opportunities for redemption: “It is not true that prison is only a negative place, re-education is possible, you learn many things. Here we work and withAthletic straightwe have found a family ”, there are those who explain, albeit with their minds set on tomorrow. To start over with the kids by my side.

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