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Prison uses maternal love to reform inmates

By Zhou Wenting | China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-17 10:13

An inmate hugs her mother after playing her favorite tune Butterfly Lovers on piano.

Artistic approach

In addition to mothers' visits, prisoners are encouraged to act in plays and musicals, and devise dances based on the theme of maternal love.

The warders feel the performances will inspire the inmates to improve their relationships with their families and live positive lives.

"Foreigners are usually more outgoing and are generally good at singing and dancing, so the foreign inmates really enjoy taking part," said Li Na, a warder who works in the section where many foreign prisoners are held.

In October, an original musical called The Sound of Love premiered at the prison in front of an audience of inmates and officials from the Shanghai Prison Administration and the Shanghai Women's Federation.

The show was performed by inmates and warders, with the involvement of professional directors and composers.

Huang said the storyline is based on the inmates' own experiences.

It focuses on a young woman who refuses to listen to her mother's advice. She commits credit card fraud to pay off an overdraft, and then misappropriates funds from her employer to repay the money. Eventually, she injures several people in a fight when she attempts to grab the evidence and conceal her crime. While serving a prison sentence, the protagonist decides to try to reconcile with her mother after realizing how much her mother loves her, and becomes determined to live a good life.

Huang said every inmate, irrespective of whether they were a performer or a member of the audience, could find a reflection of herself in the musical performance.

Fresh emotions

Mary, whose father abandoned the family when she was young, said the musical helped her to understand the depth of her mother's love.

She said she used to hate her mother because she often worked away from home, and as the oldest of six children, Mary shouldered the burden of providing for her siblings.

"In the musical, I witnessed the mother's boundless love for her daughter. I gradually came to believe that my mother loves me in the same way, but maybe she never has expressed it in an open way to me," she said.

"Now, I hope to have a close relationship with my mother, and to be a good mother if I have a child someday."

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