The Jdeideh Nursery Incident: An Obvious Aspect of Patriarchal Violence

A video inside a kindergarten in Jdeideh circulated yesterday on Lebanese social media, showing the babysitters/teachers brutally abusing children.

The video suggests that this beating, which has been documented, is only part of the ongoing violence children are continuously subject to, leaving its impact on their despondent behavior.

What makes child abuse a feminist issue?

Feminism opposes the principle of authoritarianism, stands against all practices that jeopardize individuals/groups, and attends to children as a vulnerable group.

A patriarchal system that portrays social relations as hierarchical in shape considers children to be the property of the family or rather a guarantee of the continued existence of the “family” and its descendants.

But the feminist perspective of these relationships is based on dismantling the entanglement between them, and rejecting the pervasive domination in them, as children do not belong to anyone, and their coming to life through this or that family is a coincidence that could not have been in the first place.

The controversy of the Jdeideh nursery

It may seem difficult to understand that women who suffer from patriarchal oppression in all forms of violence, economic, physical, and psychological, are also engaged in it.

But what we must ponder on are the levels of violence intertwined in this incident. The supervisor who abused the children was attacked by the parents in her home.

After that, a wave of violating the privacy of the children began through the circulation of the clip documenting moments of their abuse. The clip showed their faces – illegally – as they burst into tears, without taking into account the psychological complications of this violation.

Interestingly, a patriarchal ministerial alliance was formed to punish the female supervisors in an attempt to absorb public hue and cry and cover up for the inadequacy of state agencies.

Lebanon’s Health Minister stated that the nursery would be closed. This decision took center stage in the media and social media as if it were heroic.

“This measure alone is not enough; I will cooperate with the Minister of Education and the Minister of Social Affairs to follow up on the form of punishment,” the minister said.

Of course, there is no dispute that abusive supervisors deserve legal sanction. But what should’ve been considered in the first place was the absence of oversight mechanisms that brought the situation to what it is.

Strangely, a leaked clip is an instigator for three ministries to perform their “obvious and natural” work. The violation was not captured by surveillance cameras in the nursery, but filmed by an assistant who watched and laughed.

Lebanese law requires care homes, including nurseries, to install surveillance cameras and gives parents access to them.

But the minister, who appeared to show off his vindictive heroism, did not mention this law, nor did he mention that right.

This is alarming about Lebanon’s eroded oversight body, which the authorities have tried to cover up by providing a patriarchal model of justice.

This is a common model in countries governed by patriarchal laws. These countries rely on the duality of accountability and punishment while neglecting the role of oversight and the duty to legislate fair laws.

What was missing in punishing female supervisors to achieve justice?

Undoubtedly, closing the nursery and prosecuting the supervisors is part of justice for the children and the parents. What is not mentioned, however, is the lack of special nurseries within the workplace.

Not to mention the “maternity leave”, which is itself a form of discrimination against women in labor laws, to portray the duty of caring for the child as solely the mother’s duty.

Nonetheless, many women find themselves out of their jobs at the end of this leave, while the authorities overlook the need for a care leave for both mothers and fathers to take care of the child.

On the other hand, this does not undermine the importance of nurseries or regard them as unnecessary facilities. However, monitoring them to ensure that they meet the material and moral conditions of child care is the responsibility of the state and its agencies, not the mothers who were hit by waves of blame and reproach in the wake of the viral video, in which “public” figures participated.

A wave capable of pouring the insult of incitement to the already inflamed injury of misogyny, lurking in their free choices and atypical decisions.

In the face of the barrage of insults and threats against the abusive supervisor, there was a storm of insults and reproaches against mothers who sent their children to nurseries.

In the minds of patriarchal males, all incidents revolve around women and the “role of women”, as the Jdaideh nursery incident has turned from a case of violent abuse against children into a space to blame mothers.

For them, the incident was not a warning sign of lack of monitoring, but rather of women being in public spaces rather than staying at home to raise their children.

Many women are still confined to this narrow space of caregiving duty, due to the patriarchal capitalist system. Yet, patriarchy continues to hold them accountable for any harm or damage to their daughters and sons.



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