Female prisoners learn vocational skills to better themselves

450 female inmates in Al Awir central jail can attend workshops and learn new skills

Dubai: Some women may rightfully assume that life will never be the same when they walk through the gates of a correctional facility, to serve prison time for felonious criminal activities.

But inside their barbed-wire enclosures, others are learning that prison does not necessarily mean the end of all hope.

For the lucky few, it can be a new beginning toward a better life while serving behind bars at Dubai Central Jail.

Thanks to rehabilitation programmes, female inmates at the Al Awir facility walk out of the prison with hope, as they learn skills to start a business like crafting, tailoring, design decorations or recycling garbage.

Lieutenant Colonel Jamila Al Zaabi, director of Female Prison, Correctional and Punitive Establishments Department at Dubai Police, told Gulf News that all inmates arrive in a gloomy mood and with sad faces, but the wardens manage to plant hope inside them.

“The inmates come in depressed all the time. They are sad and angry, because their freedom is gone. But we help them to adapt to their new situation and to leave with a smile on their faces,” Lt Col Al Zaabi said.

Lt Col Al Zaabi said that they hold many workshops for inmates to learn new skills, so it proves useful for them on the completion of their jail term. “Many inmates became successful after leaving prison. I have a European inmate who learnt wallpapering and design skills. She contacted me after leaving jail, when she opened her own shop. Prison is not the end of life, it can be a new beginning,” Lt Col Al Zaabi added.

Inmates can learn how to give first aid, how to extinguish minor fires and take art classes too.

Very little garbage is thrown away in the female prison, as they have a recycling corner for inmates to repurpose materials and transform them into art and useful products. “In this corner, inmates transform waste materials into new things, like bags and baskets made from packaging, or paper waste turned into bird images or designs. Inmates put up their products up for sale and we hold the money for them until they leave prison,” the director added.

With about 450 inmates in the prison, each cell nominates one of them to be their representative and make sure the inmates’ voices reach the high-ranking officials, informing them about their needs and problems.

“The representative of the cell alert us if any inmate is depressed or not accepting her new reality, so we can help her. The most depressed inmates are the ones who have more than six months of jail term. We have social experts to counsel them.”

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