United Arab Emirates Make Breastfeeding Mandatory by Law

UAE's legislative body passes an amendment to its child protection law making the right to be breastfed until the age of two a legal right.

Mothers in Abu Dhabi will now be legally required to breastfeed their children until the age of two, an amendment to the United Arab Emirates' Child Protection Law passed by the country's legislative body, the Federal National Council, The National, a government-owned daily newspaper published in Abu Dhabi 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.