Childcare in Kurdistan and nurseries

Baz, aged 6 months and three weeks.

This might sound like a horror story but I came across an article which I bookmarked, and never got around to blogging about it until now. The article was published on Rudaw News Agency in Kurdish language, and it was about childcare in Kurdistan, particularly the treatment of children within nurseries.

Some of the problems associated with nurseries includes lack of regulation, over-charging of parents, feeding children expired food, sleeping tablets/syrups given to toddlers — these are just a few of the horrors mentioned in the article. These problems, which are apparently widespread throughout Southern Kurdistan’s are now being paid due attention to by the new minister of labour and social affairs, who has demanded a four-year report from each established nursery.

Mohammed Hawdiyani, Minister of labour and social affairs has said after reviewing the reports, “We will issue new guidelines for nurseries to follow”. Given the lack of guidelines that these institutions already follow, and the lack of hygiene, I would be surprised if there exists a genuine report or daily activities recorded by nurseries. Usually, those hired are not educated about childcare, and don’t receive special training or a certificate which certifies them to work.

There’s no doubt that the new minister’s initiative is applaudable, and even welcomed by parents throughout Kurdistan. The worry is that this will not deal with the current crisis children face within nurseries. In a reality TV show, broadcasted on Zagros TV “Watch out, the health committee is here!” a nursery was investigated. They found that children’s dummies were left in the kitchen’s cupboard, unattended, and all mixed together. Children of different ages were “nursed” together, regardless of paying attention to age differences.

I suppose this has made me immensely worried about returning to Kurdistan and leaving my son in a nursery. Surely the fact that nurseries are mistreating children by large hinders women from work — a generalisation that I’m willing to make at this stage, but may later retract. How can women return back to the work force if the societal dynamics are inherently unequal?

When women have children, there is no expectation for men to leave work or even take unpaid leave to nurse their newborn with their partner. Instead, the mother is expected to shoulder the responsibility.

Please be careful if you are leaving your children at a nursery in Kurdistan. Make sure you inspect it yourself, and instruct those tending to your children properly, ensuring that they have written down daily activities of your child.

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