In the United Arab Emirates, mothers are now required by law to breastfeed their babies until the age of 2. If a mother fails to meet the requirement, her husband may sue her.
According to Middle East news site The National, the Emirates’ Federal National Council introduced the law last month as part of a revised Child Rights Law, the country’s first comprehensive child protection and rights legislation.
After a heated debate over whether to include the clause, the council finally decided it was a child’s right to breastfeed for up to 2 years, arguing that breast milk is the healthiest nourishment for a baby and the act of nursing establishes a bond between mother and child.
Council members added that it’s a mother’s “duty” to breastfeed, citing the Holy Quran where it is said that women should nurse. The logistics of how the law will be enforced are in the process of being worked out. At a meeting last week, the council considered ideas such as suggesting that wet nurses could be provided for those women who are unable to nurse for health reasons.
While the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends that new mothers breastfeed until age 2 and breast milk is universally recognized as the best nourishment for babies, the new law is stirring up a debate over whether it’s fair to force a woman to nurse.
Many people say that a forced law is unfair and that a woman should have the right to chose whether to nurse.