ANA NORMAN BERMÚDEZ
documentary photographer | photojournalist
In the past.
Friendly and approachable, Jinny does not fit the stereotypical image of a prison officer. Indeed, she never felt like she was meant to work in prison.“There are too many rules, too many restrictions on freedom. It creates an atmosphere of unhappiness that is very contagious”.
At the women’s prison where she worked, the inmates learn vocational skills such as electronics, sewing and massage therapy, to make their transition to post-prison life easier. But many still struggle after they leave. They face a great deal of prejudice, which makes finding a job through conventional means difficult. By the time they are out, many also find that their husbands have remarried, leaving them with little to no family support.
To ease the process of re-integration, Jinny and her business partner Thierry came up with the idea of setting up a massage parlour run by women ex-prisoners. This way, women who leave prison can have a support network and a source of income, free of judgement. There is a strong sense of community and closeness among the women in the parlour, Jinny included.“It’s like a family”, she says. “What’s in the past is in the past. They made a mistake, they rectified the mistake, and now they are just like anybody else. They accept that prison was a part of their lives but now they just want to move on”.