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In pictures: “A prison within a prison”

In issue #20 of Delayed Gratification, we published a photo feature on the only women’s prison in Gaza – a strip of land often referred to as an ‘open air prison’ due to the tight controls on its borders. In “A prison within a prison”, photographer Celia Peterson tells us about the summer she spent with the inmates and their guards. “At first the penal centre seemed more like a girl’s boarding school, albeit one soundtracked by the clanging of tin cups on steel bars at night,” Peterson said. “I witnessed a level of compassion between the inmates and the guards that I wasn’t expecting.”

Many of the women incarcerated are doing time for “moral crimes”, which in most cases has to do with the women being behind closed doors with a man and out of wedlock. “The family disapproval can be as damaging as imprisonment,” Peterson told us. “The key focus for Amal Nofal, [the head of the Reform and Rehabilitation Centre for Women], and her team is on helping the women retake their place in conservative Palestinian society after their release.”

Below are some of Peterson’s photographs that we didn’t want you to miss out on, but couldn’t be squeezed onto our pages. The original photo feature and the full interview with Peterson can be found in our brand new issue, which is available in the DG shop.


A discussion between Umm Ahmed, a prison guard and social worker, and two prisoners convicted together of a moral crime. They were both given a three-year sentence: the woman in the pink headscarf left after two years but the man must remain for the full sentence as he was already married. They were  made to marry each other and he now has two wives.


Male officers at the Reform and Rehabilitation Centre in Gaza, Palestine. The prison also has both a male and female section.


Umm Ahmed in a meeting with two prisoners incarcerated for moral crimes at the Reform and Rehabilitation Centre for Women.


Inmates pray together at the Reform and Rehabilitation Centre.


Inmates preparing for iftar in their cells at the Reform and Rehabilitation Centre for Women.

For more of Celia Peterson’s work, head to her website or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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