The Delhi High Court has sought the stand of the Centre, the Delhi government and civic authorities on providing facilities that would allow mothers to breastfeed in public places. The court was hearing a PIL filed by a nine-month-old baby through his mother.
“Breastfeeding is considered gross, the concept of nursing rooms for moms in public places also continues to be a dream. Being able to get out of home following birth is incredibly important for women as they are likely to suffer post-natal depression… Don’t I have a right to life, right to be free from hunger and enjoy mother’s milk?” the PIL read.
On learning that there are no feeding and childcare rooms at public places, the bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar observed that such facilities are provided all over the world. The court further noted there were no facilities to breastfeed even at airports here.
The bench said the matter needs to be examined by all land-owning agencies and civic bodies, and directed them to place a report before it in four weeks on the action taken to address the issue. The court listed the matter for further hearing on August 28.
Advocate Animesh Rastogi, appearing for the infant and his mother, sought the court’s intervention in providing adequate facilities to lactating mothers and infants. “Infants have a right to life, right to be free from hunger, and enjoy the highest attainable standard of health. Infants have a right to adequate food, health services and care. The state and others are obliged to respect, protect and facilitate the nurturing relationship between mother and child,” the plea said. It said no woman should be prevented from breastfeeding at public places because of lack of facilities.
“In a country which will soon be home to the world’s youngest population, protecting nursing rights for mothers will be critical for the health of the nation. While we gear up to be the world’s fastest growing economy, investing in smart cities and cattle protection, can we also focus on creating infrastructure for mothers and child and protect their fundamental rights,” the plea questioned.
“Women’s Right to Privacy is hampered due to lack of breastfeeding facilities at public places. Women are harassed and mocked by public at large,” the petitioner said.
Highlighting that mothers have lost the hope to live in a dignified manner due to a lack of basic facilities such as feeding rooms, the plea said, “Women have to disrobe themselves for feeding a child at public places and many times have to face sexual harassment by the public.”