Pema Geley

 

“I was imprisoned for 15 years. I was sentenced in 2003 at the age of 24 and released in 2018, 4 months earlier than planned. This kidu of reducing time if one performed well during their term was established in 2012. A good record included listening to duty personnel, doing assigned work effectively, and helping search for missing inmates among other things.

Every block in prison has a group captain, a general captain, and committee members. I served as a committee member for 3 years, along with 5 others. There were around 150 inmates in our block. Our responsibility was to unlock the doors at 6 am and lock them back at 6 pm. There was a common kitchen with a mess captain. Those who wish to eat from the mess had to save their ration. Others could keep their ration to cook on their own. We received 250 grams of meat or cheese each week along with 3 kgs of other vegetables, 20 kgs of rice and 3 kgs of dal. We also got to play games and sports. I’d engage most of my time playing volleyball, basketball, and badminton. We also had block-wise tournaments.

Only male inmates were housed in the prison centre and same-sex relationships were common. I never had one. But there were many men who had sex with men. As far as I know, most of us knew about HIV and its transmission. However, some men bartered money and other goods for unsafe sexual favours, especially from new, weak or poor inmates. There was also a room to spend a night in if a partner from outside visited. Duty personnel would guard the door and other inmates would drop meals. For me, it was mostly my parents and siblings who came to visit.

I got married after prison and have 2 sons and a daughter. Despite my prison time, my family and wife treat me no differently now than before. I’m now 43 years old and work at a construction site. I want to educate my children and see them pursue their dreams. In all the years I’ve lived, I’ve learnt that it’s important to keep good company. Always befriend good people and be kind to others.”

Humans of Thimphu with YPEER Asia Pacific Center -Ypeer AP brings stories of Young Key Population, their vulnerabilities with HIV and their journeys.

#HumansofThimphu #HumanStories #SRHRforEveryone

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