Bill Would Make Breastfeeding Mandatory in the Emirates

Breastfeeding is a woman's duty and the right of every infant until the age of two, say UAE legislators.

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Mothers in Abu Dhabi will be required to breastfeed their children until the age of two, in terms of a new law currently under discussion in the legislative body of the United Arab Emirates.

The breastfeeding clause was passed by the state's Federal National Council last week. It will be part of a new Child Rights Law, the country’s first comprehensive child protection and rights legislation, which is currently being debated, The National newspaper reported.

FNC members argued that breastfeeding was a “duty” and every infant should be entitled to be nursed as it was beneficial for health and built a strong bond between mother and child.

A few members said it was also laid out in the Quran.

“This is the right of every child for two years,” said Sultan Al Sammahi, a committee member. He added that wet nurses would be provided for mothers who were unable to breastfeed.

Studies had established a clear link between breastfeeding and child development, Al Sammahi said.

Women's groups were not convinced, however. Marie-Claire Bakker, a member of the international breastfeeding support group, La Leche League, said breastfeeding was a deeply personal experience and “this relationship and bond cannot be legislated.”

The Minister of Social Affairs, Mariam Al Roumi told lawmakers that the law would enable men to sue their wives if they didn’t breastfeed.

A baby sleeps after breastfeeding.Credit: AP

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