Looking after woman prisoners [Archives:2003/680/Culture]

October 27 2003

Fahmia Al-Fotih
It is obvious seen and known how oppressively the society treats woman and the degrading outlook it forms about her but what about it if she is a prisoner. We observe the miserable conditions that most woman prisoners find that the closest ones abandon them leaving them without a defense staying for along time in dark cells of prisons. More painful it is when those female prisoners have children who unfortunately live inside prisons for the simple fact of being the sons and daughters of imprisoned women. Such children are deprived of the right to health, education, leisure and socialization and they are treated as they were guilty adults.
So Ricercae Cooperazione (RC) has come to tackle such important issues by drawing up a new life and a future for this poor portion of the society and start a new chapter in their life.
Yemen Times interviewed Guido Pollini, Ricerca e Cooperazione representative in Yemen to closely know more about this organization and its objectives, tasks, plans and projects that will soon implemented and help those poor imprisoned women.

Q: Could you give a brief account on – Ricerca e Cooperazione organization please?
A: Ricerca e Cooperazione (RC) is a member of an Italian Federation composed of 30 non-governmental organizations spread all over the country. It is accredited by the Italian Ministry of Foreign affairs since 1985 and registered upon UNFPA and IFAD.
RC is organizing development projects in the following sectors:-
a) Rural development, regional planning, natural resources management and protection of environment.
b) Social promotion and strengthening of local organization.
c) Income generation activities and vocational training.
d) Micro credit scheme implementation.
e) Sexual and reproductive health.
f) Cultural heritage rehabilitation and enhancement.
Among the projects RC conducted are the following:-
School health in the West Bank, Palestine 1994- 1997, costing USD 530,000
Sefwi Integrated Development Program in Ghana, co-financed by the European commission, costing, USD 600,000 / -.
Rural Development and Gender Extension services in Jordan, costing USD 1, 250, 000 / -.
Dignita alle donne in Kosovo, costing USD 963,076 / -,
Financed by Missione Arcobaleno.
A number of versatile projects implemented in Lebanon, Palestine, Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia, Egypt, Tunisia, Mallawi, and Yemen.
One of our main interests is the welfare of women prisoners and Juveniles in conflict with the law in Sana'a and later on in other locations in Yemen, defending them in courts to get them out of prisons, providing shelter, food, education and training to reintegrate them into ordinary life and society. Like other organizations, we feel the drastic need for the civil society to work in development to raise the standard of living for the poor and spreading the awareness of human rights.

Q: How do you evaluate woman prisoners in Yemen?
A: Generally speaking, female prisoners in Yemen suffer the same conditions and live the same circumstances like prisoners in other countries. Particular attention is taken for these between 12 to 17 years of age with no possibility of reintegration into their original families, they are the weakest portion of the population rejected by the society and deprived of all their rights, and whose only opportunity for survival is begging, Their number, compared with other countries, is small 70- 80 cases, but number of cases are sometimes more than that.

Q: What are the obstacles that you as an organization have faced?
A: Obviously, no activity or effort exerted in any time and place is void for some type or other of obstacles, deterrent or inconveniences. Our project is no exception; although they are not that significant to form serious impediment. There is the usual routine and delays that is hindering us to perform our tasks as scheduled in our timeline and plans. Besides, some of our partners do not fulfill their share of action in certain tasks on time creating thus the need for extra efforts in the follow up and motivation on the part of the executive in the project management.

Q: Is there any cooperation between you and the government?
A: Naturally the project cannot go ahead anywhere without the cooperation and good will of the competent government bodies and officials, the project agreement in the first place, was made with the Ministry of planning and almost all of our tasks and contacts are directly or indirectly connected with officials especially prison personnel and the law enforcing bodies, who provide us with the data and lists of the targeted groups and the beneficiaries of the project.

Q: What have you achieved in the field of helping the female prisoners?
A: The RC office in Sana'a was only opened three months ago, that is why it is still too early to speak of concrete achievements. We are still in the early stages
Of preparations and foundation work, but our plans and action timelines are already set for launching as soon as possible. We are already on the track to realize our targets and goals according to these plans.

Q: What are your future plans?
A: As for our future plans, we have a long way to go during the three years of the project lifetime. All tasks are clearly identified within the prescribed timeframe detailed in the three-year action plan and the specific responsibilities of all our partners in the project. For your intimation we may cite the following items:-
Training of lawyers.
Defending juveniles.
Lobbying actions for policy improvement. (Roundabout & inter -institutional meeting & research).
Construction of the rescue training center.
Provision of training.
Provide school and nursery equipment inside the prison.
Construction of the school extension.
Provide educational staff to meet project requirement.
Awareness in selection schools.