It’s no secret that I am a huge believer in breastfeeding if you can (emotionally and physically). But I’m an even bigger believer in a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body so this news coming out of the United Arab Emirates is disturbing. According to The National, the UAE recently made breastfeeding compulsory for the first two years of a child’s life, citing the child’s right to nurse as stated in Islam. According to the Minister of Social Affairs, Mariam Al Roumi:
“This part of the law can be a burden. If the law forced women to breastfeed, this could lead to new court cases.”
According to The National, exactly how the new law will be enforced is still up in the air. One Federal National Council member, Al Samahi, suggested that if there were complications thought to be caused by a woman “neglecting her duties,” then she could be punished. It’s also been suggested that husbands could sue their wives if she refuses or fails to breastfeed to his liking.
Here’s the thing that really bothers me about this law. According to various FNC members, it’s meant to “nurture a strong relationship between a mother and her child.” But breastfeeding, even under the best of circumstances, can be arduous and exhausting. The last thing that is going to foster maternal bonding is the fear of legal troubles every time you try to nurse, or fail to live up to your spouse’s expectations for nursing. Between the pain of childbirth, cracked nipples and no sleep, the last thing a new mom needs is another thing to worry about.