Does India need a law for Breastfeeding in public?

Imagine that you’re a mother, stuck in a public place with no escape, when your child starts wailing incessantly because he/she is hungry! What would you do?

  • Does India need a law for Breastfeeding in public?
  • Does India need a law for Breastfeeding in public?

Women in India have always been sexually objectified. And no matter how feminist that statement may sound, not one educated woman would disagree on that notion. However, the society portrays every feminist as a maniac trying to sell a biased opinion.

Even the act of breastfeeding has not been treated exceptionally. Despite the level of hatred it may attract, what most fail to notice is that it may be a consequential need for working mothers heading out with their babies, simultaneously managing a household, a child and a job. After all, how many designated spots do we have around for women to breastfeed?

However, breasts are looked upon as sexual objects and women exposing them, even for such a basic motherly act, are supposedly simply asking for it. But, are they?
What most men and also some women fail to notice is the intention behind breastfeeding, which is definitely not for the passerby to stare at it!

I know what your next question would be. Why can’t she use a milk bottle instead?
Well, breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for an infant until the age of one year and can save up to 20% of the neonatal deaths, which accounts for 0.75 million neonates dying every year in India, the highest in any country across the globe. In fact, breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth cuts neonatal death risk by 33%.

According to a UNICEF report and evidently so, India ranks the 12th worst for newborns, among 52 other lower middle-income nations. Only 55% of the newborns receive exclusive breastfeeding. What many fail to notice is that breast milk is the baby’s first vaccine.
But that’s not the point! The difficulty here is that if a mother has to breastfeed every 2-3 hours, should she actually be on house arrest?

Well, here’s what happens if you are not:

A Malyalam magazine in the recent past got infamous for all the wrong reasons, where what Grihalaxmi portrayed was a bold message breaking the taboos of breastfeeding. The 27-year old actress Gilu Joseph was widely critiqued for grabbing eyeballs for something that should be looked at as natural. Where many stepped forward in support, plethora of haters converted it into a controversy, saying that it wasn’t her child and the she was neither lactating nor married. The critics called it a publicity stunt.

Another was the case of Lisa Haydon, who, in another scenario, posted a photo of her breastfeeding her own child. Unlike the previous case, she fulfilled all the necessary parameters but the critics still had something to say.

It’s high time we start looking at something natural as it is and tell the perverts in our heads to take a backseat.

Statistics say, 50% of India’s population lies below the age of 25 and 65% below the age of 35, which reflects that around 15% are in the potential age of becoming parents.  Children between the age of 0-5 years constitute 29% of 1.2 billion people living in India, which is ever growing because of the constant increase in the number of potential mothers and 41,487 babies born every day.

That reflects roughly how many women should be breastfeeding in India routinely. However, ‘should be’ doesn’t mean they do. With a humungous population of both new mothers and infants, India still shies away from breastfeeding, especially in public.
Don’t you think mothers in India need nursing rights?

Well, more than I blame the mothers for shying away, I’d focus on those who don’t even spare goats! Like how can a mother breastfeed her child in public without getting hungry attention?

Note: This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. Mumbai Live neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.