Male Lawmakers Want to Make Breastfeeding Mandatory for Baby’s First Two Years

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Lawmakers in Abu Dhabi have proposed that all new moms breastfeed their babies until the age of two, as part of a new law legislatures are desperately trying to pass in the United Arab Emirates.

The breastfeeding clause, which was passed by Abu Dhabi’s Federal National Council in January, will be part of a new Child Rights Law. The Law is the first comprehensive child protection and rights legislation that the UAE has passed.

Federal National Council members (the people responsible for the law) argued that breastfeeding was a mother’s “duty” and that every infant is entitled to be nursed because it’s beneficial to his (or her) health and also builds a strong bond between mama and baby.

While most men agreed, a few members of the FNC felt that even the Quran spells out a mother’s responsibility to nurse her baby. “This is the right of every child for two years,” says Sultan Al Sammahi, one of the FNC committee members. He even added that wet nurses (basically nursing surrogates) would be provided to mothers who were unable to nurse their babies. The Minister of Social Affairs, Mariam Al Roumi, also added that the law would enable men to sue their wives if they didn’t breastfeed.

And while the male-dominated legislature does have the backing of science (studies show time and time again how nursing is beneficial to both baby and mom), various women’s groups across the world are stepping up to defend a woman’s right to breastfeed — or not.

Marie-Claire Bakker, one of the members of the international breastfeeding support group known as La Leche League, felt that breastfeeding was a personal experience and should be a personal decision, noting that “this relationship and bond cannot be legislated.”

What do you think?: Should men have the right to dictate whether a woman breastfeeds?

Plus, more from The Bump:

11 Things You Didn’t Know About Nursing — but Probably Should!

Moms Share What They Wished They’d Known About Breastfeeding

Everything You Need to Know About Breastfeeding