Protection of Women and Children in Soviet Russia
In general, all creches and Houses of Child are in the former residences of the wealthy aristocracy or bourgeoisie, although every year one or two specially constructed buildings for the care of children are erected and the success of the five year plan will greatly increase them. Many of these former residences are quite inadequate as nurseries, but the Russians have made the best of what buildings they have. Never once did I see a house which had been spoiled by turning it into a nursery, for the floors and walls were all well protected and wherever there was handsome woodwork in a room, it was either covered over or else that room was not in use. Some of these houses were abandoned fully furnished at the time of the Revolution, in which case the furniture has been stored away in unused parts of the buildings. Occasionally I visited creches where the former owner of the house was the manager or housekeeper. These former owners turned their homes into houses of refuge for children during the War and the Revolution, and used what small incomes they had left, to feed and care for wandering and destitute waifs. After the Revolution, before the Government was able to take care of such children, it encouraged those persons to continue the work they had been doing during the War and Revolution in their own homes. Today most of these people are still retained by the Government as creche employees and managers because they have had more experience in caring for children and have been working along this line since before the present organization was developed. It gives a very favourable impression to anyone who is studying the social conditions of the U. S. S. R., to find that the Soviet is not discriminating against its former enemies if they are now turning their energies to good purpose. However, most creche employees have been trained by the Soviet Government in child care, and are usually proletarians.
THE FUTURE OF THE CRECHE
Two questions naturally arise when considering
the Russian creches: (1) What will be the future of such institutions? (2) What effect will they finally have upon the home? I know no one who can answer these questions, but it is well to base any deductions on the ideals of Communism, and then modify them according to the conditions existing in the Soviet Union. When a society says that the working man or woman is the superior person (the aristocrat of the social order), it follows that more and more people will desire to work in order to gain in social prestige. Theoretically then, the more people employed, the fewer there are who remain in the home. If Communism continues at its present pace in the U. S. S. R., it means that the responsibility for almost all children will lie on the State, and that there will have to be a place in nurseries and schools for every Russian child. However, if State-run organisations, such as the creche, endeavor to care for children only
when their parents are at work, the existence of the
home will not really be affected. It seems extremely unlikely, with the present state of finance in the U. S. S. R., that the Government will take the children from their parents in the immediate future in order to undertake their complete upbringing. Nor do I think that the Russian people, with their great love for children, would willingly see them in the exclusive hands of impersonal educators. At the moment,
it is only the idealist who carries Marxian principles
to extremes and who claims that a thoroughly Communistic Government must isolate children from their parents in order to give them the finest and most scientific upbringing. In a materialistic sense? it is obvious that if parents are relieved of their children as soon as they are born, they would profit by their freedom from household cares and home duties; but on the other hand, the Russians could not have been absolutely materialistic by nature or they could never have taken up Communism in the first place. The creche, therefore, is today and I think will remain, merely an institution which serves as a means of equalising the status of women in industry, and of rearing healthy and useful citizens for the future. The dream of isolating children from their parents and bringing them up according to a scientifically correct regime, is as far from being realized in the U. S. S. R. as it is in any other country.