Monday, March 02, 2015

Life in Prison

When police announced their intention to frisk youth in Thimphu, I smiled with approval because it came right after I read a piece on two parking fee collectors being robbed by a group of boys. Perhaps police grew desperate because of the similar incidences, which I am sure they must be encountering everyday. But desperate measures are often clouded and shortsighted as this was.

A Moment from Camp RUF, Dagana. Youth in action
At the TEDx talk, my 22 year old colleague Tim Huang opened his presentation with a slideful of recent headlines from Bhutanese newspapers, which more or less told the world that Bhutan is plagued with youth problems. He goes on to justify "Bhutan don't have youth problem". (I will share the link when it's available on YouTube) And now the new headline will scare the world.

At this point it will be interesting to compare the number of youth with drug problem with number of adult with alcohol problem, youth involved in fights with adults involved in domestic violence, theft cases involving youth with theft cases involving adults, youth fraud with adult frauds, corrupt youth with corrupt adults, and I sometimes find it funny how we the minority adults decide what, how and when to do everything for the majority youth population. We are playing god with them.

I know a boy who went to prison one too many times. He was first caught breaking into a grocery store at night. He cried, begged, he promised, and did everything to avoid going behind the bars. He is now a regular. He doesn't cry or beg anymore. He rather goes in and brings out best prison stories. He gets into all sorts of problems just to get arrested. He likes getting arrested when the dinner menu in the prison is chicken. Prisoners get three confirmed meals each day with strong roof over their head. Their diet consists of nutrition that majority of Bhutanese living freely don't have the luxury to enjoy. How many families are lucky enough have meat on their plates twice a week?

Only thing that they are deprived of is freedom, which is quite subjective though. Because what's freedom without the means to make a decent living. Therefore the boy I know loves to remain in prison more than anywhere else. Life in prison makes more sense to him when on the contrary life outside should.

Now the question is how do we make life outside prison better for youth? How do we guarantee them freedom in real sense? Or may be who are we to think and decide for them? They are not our future, they are our present. Give them the chance.

3 comments:

  1. I understand this young man, what is life worth if you are hungry all the time. If you have no decent place to stay. Poverty is very grimm and cruel. To be in a save place with food and friends, what jail can offer is often better then a cruel cold uncompassionate world, in which you life or being has no value what so ever.

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  2. This story is funny but it makes sense if we live in poverty outside.

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