Why can’t breastfeeding be made compulsory? – Madras HC

Mother holding newborn baby in arms.

Last week, The Madras High Court wanted to know from the Centre why Parliament should not enact a law that makes it obligatory for women to breastfeed their newborns as it had been done in the United Arab Emirates (where it is mandatory for mothers to nurse their babies till they are 2 years old)

The question came up by Justice N. Kirubakaran when dealing with a case filed by a government doctor who was refused permission to join a PG course on the ground that the maternity leave availed by her would have to be excluded while calculating the minimum service period of two years required to join postgraduate courses as in-service candidates.

During the hearing, the court highlighted the importance of breastfeeding saying that there is no substitute for mother’s milk and even “so-called divine nectar” could not equal it.

He also said that the centre should raise maternity leave to 270 days (as done in Tamil Nadu).

A total of 15 questions has been handed over to the Union Ministry of Women and Child Welfare and also the Ministry of Law and Justice as parties to the case.

Even thought there has been relief granted to the petitioner, the judge kept the case pending in order to deal with larger issues that surround maternity leave and newborn care.