Alice de Kruijs

Do you hear me?
Approximately 500 babies, toddlers and children under age 3 currently live incarcerated with their mothers in prisons across Mexico. They have been described as “the invisible children.” Until 2016, Mexico had no laws recogni

DO YOU HEAR ME?

Approximately 500 babies, toddlers and children under age 3 currently live incarcerated with their mothers in prisons across Mexico. They have been described as “the invisible children.” Until 2016, Mexico had no laws recognizing the rights of these children or mandating specific treatment for them while living in prison. Although enacted, no action has been taken by the government to enforce this legislation and no portion of the prison budget is dedicated to providing even the most basic necessities to these children. Even the basics as clothing, food, proper hygiene, and medical care is not taken care of by the prisons.. These invisible children continue to live in crowded prison cells with their mothers, have no separation or protection from the general prison population, are repeatedly exposed to inappropriate, dangerous and potentially traumatic events including physical violence and sexual behaviour and are also at high risk of being abused and neglected.


ARTIST STEMENT

Through my images I'm seeking to express stories that need to be told in my perspective. Through my lense I want to contribute to people's life, especially to people who don't have many oppertunities. It may be idealistic but I try to make a better place doing so. I am always exploring the possibility of photographic expression. After all, I think that is what a photographer’s point of view and inspiration is.

For this particulair project I felt astonished to find out the situation these children are living in and especially the little attention it got from the rest of the world. How long will it take to give them a voice? This question inspired me to start this prpject and visit the prisons and orphanges. During my days in prison I realized how big this problem is and the children opened my eyes especially when I saw their living standards.

A part of the project are the written messages the mothers wrote on the backside of several photos.The mothers received two photos. One of them was sent back to me with a personal message.

REINSERTA

Since four years Saskia Nino de Rivera created the organisation Reinserta where she and her team seek to transform the lives of children who are born and live in prison with their mothers. The transitioning of the children out of prison at age 3 is not enough to help children recover. Many of these children will go from prison into orphanages, with little opportunity for one-on-one adult care. They may be seen as unable to benefit from a proper education due to significant developmental. If victimized while in prison, they are at greater risk of future revictimization and both early maltreatment and having an incarcerated parent put children at increased risk of becoming criminally involved and incarcerated themselves.

For the past four years Reinserta have worked to improve the living conditions of children in prison and to raise awareness about the problems they face on a daily basis. Through gender-sensitive interventions and a focus on early stimulation and building the maternal-infant bond we have been able to positively impact this population

We also work directly with mothers deprived of their freedom to empower them, improve their mental and emotional health and to enhance their bond and ability to appropriately care for their children. To date, we have provided these interventions in pieces, independent of one another. Women and children living in prison are a vulnerable population based upon their segregation from society and their exposure to toxic prison environments. Women in prison also commonly experience conditions related to inequality and lack of social opportunities. They generally come from the lowest economic classes or strata; they come from towns and neighborhoods where crime is rampant and embedded into the local culture, they experience multiple forms of violence, and usually have a low educational level.


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A special note for the team

Reinserta: Saskia Nino de Rivera and team 
Assitence: Claudine von Duclouch 
Photography: Alice de Kruijs

An exclusive photobook will follow in febr/march 2019

Approximately 500 babies, toddlers and children under age 3 currently live incarcerated with their mothers in prisons across Mexico. They have been described as “the invisible children.” Until 2016, Mexico had no laws recogni
Approximately 500 babies, toddlers and children under age 3 currently live incarcerated with their mothers in prisons across Mexico. They have been described as “the invisible children.” Until 2016, Mexico had no laws recogni

"We went to Mexico as part of your crew. The idea to visit 3 Mexican prisons and an orphan house for children who spent their first years behind prison bars, is not something you can imagine.

To start with the locations. We drove by car through poor neighbourhoods. Were people truely try to make the best of it. Holes in roads. Telephone cables hanging. The mess people live in and the danger around every corner.

To enter a prison, feels like “ I hope we can leave this place” off course high security. But passing by cells with women that yell and screem, for us they look wild and dangerous, we don’t know what they are there for. Until we arrive to the open air ground. Were there are activities, and you feel ok.               

We walk to the place where Reinserta made a playground and education rooms for children of different ages. Reinserta, the organisation who makes our visit possible, has 10 ladies working on Santa Marta prison. 

Stories are told: grandma, daughter and granddaughter who run a kidnap company. Now run a drugskartel in prison. A gay woman who rather life behind bars, instead of living in fear outside the prison.

Next morning: another prison. To enter is though, we go there with a teacher. And all off a sudden, we take part of a workshop, how to hold and hug your child. With women and kids, awomen who are there because they hit and mollestate her older children. They bonk their head against mine instead of a gentle hug to say hello. I tried to hug them back. The cells of this women are decorated. Bars are pink, slided beds for the kids under their mothers beds. and ome flowers are painted. Reinserta does a great job here.

And the 3th prison, we walk a corridor, were men are captured. The yell to us. We can’t understand, but the view is scary, “keep on walking to the next gate, don’t look around” We see a Church, an open air artpainting. A lot of loundy hanging outside. And than the cells of the women with children. A cell 2,5 by 2,5 meter.  3 beds above each other. On both sides. And little Hammoks for the babies. Who hang above their mothers beds. A very tiny shower and toilet inside each cellblock. How can 4 babies life in there with 4 mothers ???? Alice captured the most beautifull eyes. This girl, she didn’t want to go anywhere without her mom. And we learnt she can almost leave, because she turn 3 years.

It is hard to discribe, we believe images tell you more than words. We hope those kids, come out and never see bars again, but get embraced by the lovely world We are living in. We know you only live ones, make the world word living, also for those who had a false start". 

Lot off succes and recognition,

Paul and Claudine 
Approximately 500 babies, toddlers and children under age 3 currently live incarcerated with their mothers in prisons across Mexico. They have been described as “the invisible children.” Until 2016, Mexico had no laws recogni
Approximately 500 babies, toddlers and children under age 3 currently live incarcerated with their mothers in prisons across Mexico. They have been described as “the invisible children.” Until 2016, Mexico had no laws recogni
Approximately 500 babies, toddlers and children under age 3 currently live incarcerated with their mothers in prisons across Mexico. They have been described as “the invisible children.” Until 2016, Mexico had no laws recogni
Approximately 500 babies, toddlers and children under age 3 currently live incarcerated with their mothers in prisons across Mexico. They have been described as “the invisible children.” Until 2016, Mexico had no laws recogni
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