United Arab Emirates: Dubai prison ensures female inmates’ children do not miss out on school

Nursery in the women's section of Dubai Central Jail allows children to be close to their mothers.

Every week, an inmate, 45, wakes up early to go to the nursery at Dubai Central Jail. Wearing a maroon uniform and headscarf, she rushes to say goodbye to her children before they board a school bus.

When she was incarcerated in September 2014, her son was only 1 and her daughter 2.“I made just one request to the police: to let me keep my children. I didn’t have a choice because I don’t have a family here,” she said.

The nursery has separate areas for playing, studying, dining and sleeping. On the day The National visited, one inmate, 25, was with her 4-year-old daughter, who was born during her incarceration. “I didn’t mean to bring her here but when I was sentenced for seven years, I was pregnant” the inmate said.

Col Al Zaabi said prison officials have two main challenges while raising children in prison: “The first is when a child leaves us after many years, it’s really painful for us to say bye to him,” she said. “Secondly, for school-going children, we don’t want their classmates to know their mother is an inmate. So, we choose a woman and call her the mother of the child. She would go to the school with them, whenever needed.”