Photo by Keisuke Higashio on Unsplash

Lavorare in carcere

Dopo le dimissioni dall’avvocatura per motivi di salute mentale, Vandana ha fondato una ONG in onore di sua madre e si è data all’insegnamento in carcere. Qui racconta la sua esperienza di insegnante penitenziaria in qualità di ex avvocato.
India, Southern Asia

Story by Vandana Lekhi. Translated by Daniela Pratesi
Published on June 26, 2022.

This story is also available in GB kr



Quando ho smesso la mia attività di avvocato a causa di un crollo psicologico da depressione, ho ceduto l’ufficio che mia madre mi aveva regalato. Ero sulla quarantina e con il ricavato della vendita – che era tutto quello che possedevo – mi sono avventurata nella fondazione di una ONG: Kamla Jagriti Manch, dal nome di mia madre. Sono sempre stata finanziariamente incerta, ma ho rimediato a questa debolezza con l’impegno e con l’amore. Nell’assumere il ruolo di presidente della ONG, la mia unica conquista e la mia unica risorsa erano la capacità di impegnarmi nel sociale oltre ogni limite. La missione della mia ONG era quella di aiutare le persone svantaggiate attraverso un maggiore accesso all’istruzione e la diffusione di compassione e uguaglianza per tutti.

Kamla Jagriti Manch ha cominciato a collaborare con la Prigione di Tihar Central, una delle poche ONG autorizzate a interagire con i detenuti. Per me, Kamla Jagriti Manch era una sorta di one-man-show. Mi è stata assegnata la prigione numero 3, reparto Ignou.

Non ho mai fatto domande ai detenuti sui reati per cui erano stati arrestati.

E’ stata la compassione di mia madre a insegnarmi a offrire comprensione senza criticare né giudicare. Non ho mai fatto domande ai detenuti sui reati per cui erano stati arrestati. Ho raccontato l’esperienza del saggio Indù Valmiki che era stato un dacoit [1] e uno spietato assassino. Il saggio Valmiki era stato prima un temuto dacoit che derubava e uccideva la gente di passaggio nella foresta. Una volta, Valmiki minacciò di uccidere degli eremiti che attraversavano la foresta, ma, impavido, uno di loro gli disse, "Tu saccheggi e uccidi per dar da mangiare alla tua famiglia. Vai a chiedere alla tua famiglia se anche loro commetterebbero il peccato di saccheggiare e uccidere per dar da mangiare a te.” Quando Valmiki lo chiese ai suoi, si rifiutarono tutti di seguire il suo esempio di uccidere per sopravvivere. Allora Valminki pregò Ram e, quando ricevette l’illuminazione, divenne un grande eremita e scrisse il Ramayan. Credo che tutti possano fare come Valmiki.

Dicevo ai detenuti che la privazione della libertà e di una vita normale li avrebbe colmati della forza enorme che spesso deriva dalle avversità insormontabili. Pochi erano interessati allo studio, ma, inaspettatamente, quando portai quaderni e cancelleria, vennero tutti. Erano come bambini, incantati a guardare il materiale scolastico. I detenuti chiedevano la Bibbia e il Corano in varie lingue e manuali per imparare l’inglese. Me ne dovevo occupare io, mandando ordini a grosse librerie. Sceglievo i detenuti più istruiti per fare da insegnanti al resto del gruppo.

Ci sono vari motivi che portano la gente a commettere crimini: una rabbia incontrollabile, la disperazione, l’avidità, la povertà, la difficoltà di far quadrare i conti.

In ogni caso la realtà dietro le sbarre è dura e troppo spesso sconosciuta. Viene fatto qualche tentativo di riforma sociale ma la sua efficacia su larga scala è molto dubbia. Ho notato che spesso i detenuti che sceglievo come insegnanti finivano vittime di brutali aggressioni, dettate probabilmente dal risentimento degli altri reclusi. i carcerati erano troppo impauriti per confidare i propri problemi a qualcuno. Ci sono vari motivi che portano la gente a commettere crimini: una rabbia incontrollabile, la disperazione, l’avidità, la povertà, la difficoltà di far quadrare i conti. Anche se non ho mai fatto domande ai detenuti sui reati per cui erano stati arrestati, alcuni mi hanno fatto delle confidenze e mi hanno raccontato le loro storie.

Ho scoperto che reazioni criminali violente erano scatenate da estreme provocazioni e da una rabbia sfrenata. Un detenuto era stato arrestato per avere gettato dell’acido e, nell’azione, si era ustionato lui stesso. Profondamente pentito, mi chiese di contattare le vittime per farsi perdonare e trovare un compromesso. Quando andai a trovarle, capii che non si fidavano delle sue parole ed erano troppo traumatizzate per credergli. Provai tristezza per quel detenuto, perché mi era sembrato sinceramente pentito. Ma, come dimostra Shakespeare nel Mercante di Venezia, alla maggior parte della gente la qualità della misericordia non viene naturale.


[1] termine indiano che indica un brigante.


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Vandana Lekhi

Vandana Lekhi

I am a retired advocate who ran an NGO earlier for almost 10 years. I have done a lot of social work during my life and presently take care of a large number of street animals. Writing is my passion and I am running a blog and an author’s page on Facebook.

https://vandanalekhi.blog

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