Russia and Women's Prisons
Elena Anosova spent her teenage years in a Russian boarding school and found it a formative experience. "It was a sheltered institution with its own hierarchy and rules," she says of the memory. A universe of its own, with no private space or security and with its own social norms. And it was growing up in this environment that made Elena interested in closed all-female microcosms, which is how she arrived at female prison colonies.
Russia has a long history of using both female and male prisoners for free labour. Today these "corrective colonies" are direct descendants of the Gulag labor camps of the 1930s, and have become the most common type of prison throughout Russia's current and former territories. Such colonies usually combine low-skill manufacturing and labour with penal detention.
Photographer and artist Elena Anosova got access to some of these women's colonies and photographed their inmates. Here she talks about what she saw, and how Russia's patriarchal society places so many women in prison.