Customers at the Dhaka International Trade Fair (DITF) have been showing strong interest in handicrafts made by prison inmates from all over the country, according to stall attendants. Almost all of these products have sold out.
One of the newest additions to this year’s installment of DITF is the handicraft items designed and made by inmates, which are available for sale at the Karupannya stall.
The items on display have been made by the inmates from 38 prime jails of the country. Sales and management are being supervised by jail staff and other personnel.
The handicraft items boast a range of categories including clothes, floor mats, toys, bags, decorative ornament sets, baskets, shoes, handmade wall pictures, chairs, stools, diaries, and more.
The price tags on each of the products include the name of the prison it originated from alongside the price.
“We are amazed by the sales,” said Nurul Mobin, stall in-Charge and deputy jailor of Sylhet Central Jail. “They have exceeded all of our expectations.”
“This is the first time such an initiative has been taken by the DITF,” he continued. “We always sell the products made by our inmates locally, but we had to stop doing that in order to stock up for the fair.”
Nurul added that during their free time, the inmates are trained and given opportunities to make different kinds of products. The jails in Kashimpur and Narayanganj have their own garment facilities inside the infrastructures, allowing the prisoners to make clothes.
The stall manager of Karupannya, Md Hayatul Islam highlighted the positives of this initiative, saying: “This will give the inmates a chance to start a new life and earn for themselves.”
“After 10-13 years in prison, a person can come out after serving his sentence and live a crime-free life by earning money in the correct way,” he continued.
“These handicraft products are in high demand even when they are sold locally,” said Hayat. “It is good to see a similar kind of popularity in here [DITF] too.”
Among the products being sold, toys cost Tk300-400, t-shirts Tk180-250, bags Tk500-800, kitchen stools Tk800-1,000, key rings Tk60 and floor mats cost Tk1,000-1,500 each.
Other, bigger items like garden table sets are worth Tk9,000-10,000 each, dressing tables cost Tk12,500-17,500, and a wardrobe is worth Tk22,800.