A Journey with Soad... (A Minor in the Female Jail)
Inside a small office with miserable ventilation and dull wall. Everything is almost monotony, even the office furniture, surrounded with weariness and cold. This how I sat down waiting for (Soad) the first Libyan minor prisoner at “Jdaida” prison in the Tripoli.
I didn’t wait too long until a long-stemmed child with the curls of a woman's body greeted me; her shy and wiry features showing her age of 14.
In a bored manner she adds saying “here we are more free to talk, but at the end of the day it’s still a jail with bars, when they arrested me, I changed my first name and added a new surname. I don’t want to increase more scandals to my family and it could be the only advantage is that I don’t have any legal documents, where I call myself any name I want.
When I asked about her age, she looks at me confused and responses:
I don't know when my birthday is, all I know is I was born in 2002
Her facial features change into sadness and a calm disgusting saying: my family doesn’t take care of me and they are very restricted, as they provide with anything. They also force me to wear a black robe belongs to elderlies, not as my girly robe. she appoints with a childish joy to her black robe mixed with colored fabrics.
They didn’t even bother to register me in the family book and I don’t have any papers or birth certificate and when I ask my father why I don’t go to school as the other children, his responses that he has to register me first and the years pass without a real answer. I was raised at my aunt’s place at Hay Alkawkh residence in Tripoli in the roof of the residence.
I feel embarrassed of being unable to read or write and I hate my family so much, as they know that jailed here and they didn’t even bother to visit me or ask about me. My aunt who raised me, didn’t care as well and they throw me away. They don’t know if I’m dead or alive
An Illiterate Child Adopts the Street Life
She continue telling the beginning of her misery. I never stopped escaping from home, as I was raped last year and I lost my virginity.
I had an argument with my cousin while we were hanging out in a taxi, and I got extremely angry that I couldn’t stay with her in the car. Therefore, I left the car and I was walking in the streets without money or a goal, but to relax. When the darkness fell, someone offered me a ride and I accepted, where the adventure curiosity overcame my obsessions.
He took to his place and raped me inside a room with full of “skulls decoration” and he released me after that.
We hear the female noise in the corridor and she immediately covers her black hair with a colorful scarf fearing the jailers
The beginning of everything was from here and was crying very much. During my return form the man that raped me, three girls stopped me and I told them what happened with me, they offered to live with them and I moved to live with them in Ajailat city.
I don’t know how long did I live with them, I neither know how to count nor the time, but I’m sure it was a long period of time. I was taking drugs with them whenever I want to forget my family
I addicted smoking too, as I didn't sell my body ever, but they have been always trying to convince me to have sex with their friends and they collect money. One day, we had an argument and returned to Tripoli.
As a miserable Shahrazad, she continues telling her story while observing her changing features. “I was walking around during the day, covering my face with niqab, while I beg for money in the street. At the worst level, I get 30 dinars per day from bagging; a money that can cover my expenses for food and drinks, or I can buy underwear and some decent clothes”.
During the night, I ran to sleep within a deserted ruins in Triq Alshat. I lived this way for long time.
She kept silent for a moment, while playing via her fingers with the end of her scarf, I finally noticed accidental wounds, numerous attempts along the left hand to cut off the arteries.
She looks at me with a childish smile saying: While being homeless in the streets, I met a Tunisian man and I loved him very much. He was handsome and white like you. she appoints to me with full of sad love look.
I lived with him until he wanted to marry me, then he sent me back to my home and came to propose and asks my hand form my father, nut once he realized that I have no legal documents he left me behind…!
Her features change into hate and says:
After my release from the prison, I will work hardly to register myself and prove my identity
A Gun, Genital Organs … and Prison
She continue telling her story about getting into jail in charge of “homeless” saying: I was moving between my family and my aunt, where my family treated me awfully and very racist comparing to my siblings and I was the only one that I didn’t attend the school ever. They don’t give me money, even if it was little and my mother doesn’t even know if I exist, until I gave up on them and decided to return to the street. I escaped and I kept walking in the street until a group of men offered me a ride in their high vehicle, later on I knew they belong to a militia. They tried to rape me, but they couldn’t and they managed to snap me naked, then they asked me to pay them, but I didn’t care much because I don’t have the money anyways.
They hit on the back of my neck with the pistol grip, one of them tried to put the gun inside my genital organ. If there colleague wasn’t afraid that thing might get worse to become a murder, they wouldn’t disown me finishing their playing.
They threw me in the street and I kept walking around with ton clothes until a militia belongs to “Alburki forces” in Abuslim found me
I was prisoned there and I told them I was kidnapped, but they said they can nothing to me. The generator noise increases to cover our voices, announcing the beginning of the electricity shortage hours, the thing that Tripoli got used to with a bitter silence.
With a calm voice and far-off eyes she says: I tell you my story and I am very strong, but once I return to my room in the “Bulgarian Sector” (a sector in the prison for good women) I cry every day.
I had friends in the prison, girls in my age that I feel a bit of consolation. The noise gets closer in the corridor and Soad looks nervous and I ask about the reason behind her nervousness and she tells me she fears the jailers, especially the jail’s manager and I respect her as my mother. She is tough, but she gave me a gift (a very beautiful dress) I will wear it once I leave the prison.
Suddenly, everything stops once the jailer comes inside the office asking me with a begging tone “try to help her please by publishing her story, she is an innocent child who Opened her eyes being homeless and she lived over the roof of the residence where I live. I answered with a shy smile, then the jailer leaves out and Soad looks at me in the eyes and says: "my life I miserable and I will stay here until I die".
Leaving out the prison requires my family to sign on the receipt form and they forgot about me, they didn’t register me in the family book and forgot me
If I left from here I will live on my own, find a job and be independent. I wish to move and live abroad, I hate this country and I don’t want to spend my life in the street, as I don’t want to continue like this, otherwise I will find myself in the jail again.
We kept in silence for a while announcing the end of the story. We left the office and we met a cat outside on the front of the door. Soad kindly plays with it, the jailer sees us and comes to take Soad to the cold corridors and rooms behind the metal closed doors.
I walked outside the prison on silence, thinking about the number of illiterate girls such as Soad that are detained behind the prison bars or seek the street life.
The Women’s Reform and Rehabilitation Foundation (Aljdaida) continues to receive minors up to this day in charge of cases or judgments.
According to the official spokesman of the police station, "Colonel Ahmed Abu-Kraa" he said that juvenile reform is an institution that is under social solidarity.
Due to the absence of this institution after the fall of the former regime, the Public Prosecutions and courts refer the convicted and detained minors into reform and rehabilitation institutions for adults.
This addresses the deep crack in the administrative system of the government authorities, where it is unfair to combine the minors despite their various crimes and offenses to open up the minors prospects to learn and engage with adults in the wrong framework.