A right for all children, as mentioned in Islam

The Federal National Council in Abu Dhabi passed a law last week that mothers have to breastfeed their babies up to the age of two. Yes a law, that they have to.

Salem Al Ameri (Abu Dhabi) insisted that breastfeeding was a right for all children, as mentioned in Islam.

Dr Amal Al Qubaisi (Abu Dhabi) said that because labour laws already allow working women to take time to breastfeed, adding the requirement to the legislation showed consistency.

The clause was added to the law once it was passed to the council’s health, labour and social affairs committee for review.

Sultan Al Sammahi (Fujairah), a member of the committee, said it was the right of all children to be breast fed up to the age of 2.

But what about the rights of the woman to decide for herself?

The what? The who?


  1. badgersdaughter says

    I had a friend who became unexpectedly pregnant in college and was essentially disowned by her family. She had been raised in a sheltered way and, while she knew why she got pregnant, and did some research on what to expect once the baby was born, didn’t have any idea how to identify or solve common problems. From stress or hormones or who knows why, she didn’t make enough milk to feed her baby. After a week home, she went to the county clinic to ask why her baby cried all the time, what could be wrong. The staff doctor shouted at her for letting her baby starve before she and I finally convinced him that she was feeding the baby as much as she could. The doctor shut up and asked her a few questions and sent her straight to the nurse to get a box of formula and to sign up for food assistance for women and children. As she was leaving, he turned to me and said, “You know, that baby could have died if you hadn’t brought her in.”

    I wonder how many babies will die because the mothers can’t breast feed and are afraid to tell their doctors so.

  2. says


    Not to mention that some babies don’t want to be breastfed once they start solids. Both of mine weaned themselves before they were a year old.

  3. says

    I have a similar tale, in that after our son was born, my wife simply could not produce enough milk to feed him; Ghu knows it wasn’t for lack of trying. It just wasn’t going to happen. So yeah, where the fuck do a bunch of dudes (those are all men’s names, natch) who probably haven’t changed a diaper in their lives get off telling women how to best be mothers?

  4. latsot says

    My sister in law produced enough milk, but couldn’t breastfeed her baby. He just wouldn’t feed. The midwife monitoring the baby made her life hell, shaming her constantly for being unable to feed him, telling her she was doing it wrong without ever telling her how to do it right. She should just know, apparently. And I don’t just mean breastfeeding, the midwife kept telling my SIL that she was doing being a mother wrong. That is one hell of a shitty thing to tell someone, especially someone who already felt she was doing something wrong.

    It turns out that she wasn’t doing anything wrong. The baby just wouldn’t breastfeed. He has Dyspraxia and has a long history of difficulty eating, which we’re only just beginning to understand. Dyspraxia can cause hypersensitivity to textures and flavours and can result in a general lack of desire to eat. Problems with breastfeeding dyspraxic babies are well documented, but of course he couldn’t be diagnosed when he was a baby. At the time, she just thought she was doing something wrong and failing as a mother. And the people who were supposed to help made it worse. I’ve heard similar anecdotes from others. I certainly don’t wish to malign midwives, but I’ve seen quite a lot of similar anecdotes. Some of the people who do post birth care in the UK seem to count breastfeeding as the Proper way to do things and everything else as irksome and wrong and a failure at mothering. I’m sure it’s true that breastfeeding is best, all things being equal, but all things are not equal and as usual, it’s the woman who gets the shitty end of the stick. In this case, my SIL’s needs were ignored and the baby’s needs exaggerated. It wasn’t as though he wasn’t getting enough to eat, he was totally fine and admirably looked after. He’s about the happiest kid I know.

    Fortunately, she has never been one to rely on what she’s told. She did some research and found an organisation – Sure Start, a charity that does brilliant work – which helped her. It recognised that she is a person rather than a broodmare. It understood that what was best for the baby was not the enforcement of arbitrary rules or the elevation of baby rights over woman rights, but the process of working toward a situation that worked well for both.

    Laws that govern an arbitrary aspect of raising children are automatically suspect. Laws that favour a child’s rights at the expense of a parent’s rights are automatically suspect.

    What I hate especially about this law is that it seems to be derived from the idea that the government ‘gave’ the right to working women to breastfeeding breaks at work and then demanded some sort of duty to pay for that right. Which means it isn’t a right at all.

  5. rq says

    I held out for a year for all three of them, and then two things happened: they didn’t want the boob anymore, and I had had enough. Going on for another year after that? I’m pretty sure we’d have stopped at one.

    How are they going to control how long women breastfeed? Will husbands report on their own wives? And how often per day up to those two years – is once in the evenings enough by the end, or must it be a regular schedule with no solids?
    I just can’t see how they’ll police the law… Not that they necessarily need a way, just the law, and then anything can be considered a transgression… Awesome. Yeah.

  6. aziraphale says

    “…it was the right of all children to be breast fed up to the age of 2.”

    But not in public, of course.

    Though I suppose it might be done inside a burka.

  7. A Masked Avenger says

    My wife tried to breast feed our son, who was premature; immediately upon latching on, he would fall asleep. Every. Damn. Time. Awake and screaming with hunger, then rooting, then *zonk*. It was creepy. Bottles he could do–because with bottles, it’s swallow or drown.

    Nurses berated her, after he ended up in the hospital dehydrated at age three days. They lectured, bullied, and harassed. I even threatened them once, telling the entire nurses’ station that the next time anyone berates my wife, I will descend upon them like the wrath of a vengeful god, and they went after her minutes later.

    Fifteen years later, I’m still kind of pissed about it. My wife was traumatized. At least the cops weren’t called in.

  8. MarkF says

    My son wouldn’t breastfeed at all. His mother had to pump right from the start.

    The doctors and nurses told her that it’s only the first week or so of breast milk that is really crucial for the baby’s health. Apparently after that, formula is just fine.

  9. Gordon Willis says

    It’s the problem with ideologists, whether they’re religious or secular, and it’s the same problem with rigid moralists, because they too are ideologists. They really believe that everyone has to be identical, that there is only one correct pattern for a human being, and everyone is required conform to it, by god, social realism or proper principles. Diversity is sin: that is, the existence of sin is proved by the fact that not everyone is the same, and some are so different as to be frighteningly incomprehensible to the simplistic mind.

    Of course, they talk blissfully about individuality as a marvellous gift of god or a wonderful fact of nature, but when outside their fuzzy imaginations they really don’t like the actuality, oh, not at all! It is then that they talk disapprovingly about mere facts of nature, like the moralists they ultimately are. They point to wicked things done by others, and are unable to see that their own acts are also wicked, because what is condemned as badness in them by others is true adherence to sacred or politically correct or moral precepts in their own minds. And when I say “wicked”, I really do mean it, for all wickedness is at root the belief that I am absolutely justified or that what I want takes precedence over any consideration of others, or simply that others (women)* do not really matter. I am convinced that wickedness is about such things: it is simply me rather than you, my (conception of) god rather than you or yours, my ownership or security rather than yours. It is ultimately selfishness, even when it appears as political or religious expediency.

    Morally stupid, narrow, bigoted, arrogant, self-preferential and cowardly, all in one miserable bunch of powerful and power-seeking fools. And they are all men! It’s all a man’s imposition of his will upon the rest of the world, and especially upon women, who most of all have to be kept in their places (otherwise hell would break loose, wouldn’t it?) After all, we know what happened in the Garden of Eden, don’t we? Man is shamefully tempted by vile Woman who listens to dirt-eating talking snakes instead of doing what she is told by the gardener whose enjoyment of the cool of the day is totally ruined for ever and ever and becomes eternally most cross.

    Perhaps imposing the fear of hell has been too successful: even the moralists secretly believe it — they just don’t know they do (there are countless very fiery demonic Wedges which have fine but exceedingly sharp ends). Perhaps it is time to consider the conservative mind as a real cause of compassionate concern. These people need to be helped. They must certainly be stopped from trying to run everything, seeing as their incompetence is killing everyone else. But they can’t help themselves — it’s how they are, or how they were brought up (or it’s how we all are, beyond a certain point which is closer to some than to others). I don’t want them to lose their rights and be sectioned, but why are they allowed to go on destroying our lives? Why shouldn’t they learn to be reasonable? How many hangings from cranes, stonings, suicide bombers, kamikaze pilots, concentration camps and lampshades do we need?

    * or women, Jews, muslims, christians, women, slaves, women, children, the working class; or competitors, women, heretics, other men, philosophers, scientists, women…

  10. karmacat says

    I am so tired and frustrated that all these legislators (including the ones in the US) are making medical decisions. Breastfeeding is a medical issue and with any medical decision, you have to weigh the risks and benefits. It is certainly not a moal issue. Not being able to breastfeed for whatever reason doesn’t make you a bad mother. It also drives me up the wall when the church and the GOP talk about oral contraceptives as a moral issue. Oral contraceptives are medical treatments because pregnancy is not a benign condition. there are risks to every pregnancy

  11. Shatterface says

    Breastfeeding is a medical issue and with any medical decision

    No, it’s a mother’s decision which includes medical considerations but is not restricted to those .

  12. AnotherAnonymouse says

    I planned to breastfeed but knew nothing about it, so I joined a local La Leche League to learn and ask and hopefully find a mentor. Instead I was lectured that I was lower-than-dirt for having a career (much better to live in a homeless shelter with no money than to work?), “selfish” because I didn’t own a bread machine (gluten intolerant–don’t eat bread), and clearly an inferior human being who would never amount to anything because my mother had not breastfed me. A few weeks after that, I landed in the hospital in a coma with HELLP Syndrome, including organ failure. Luckily the baby was far enough along that he survived. While I was in the CCU, bright orange from liver failure, a member of LLL showed up to berate my husband for not milking me like a cow to feed my newborn in the NICU. Because of course whatever might come from a dying woman would naturally be healthful for a preemie?!?

    Also, you’ll notice that not once did any of the stellar LLL ladies ever offer to donate breast milk to the newborn. After all, the point is not milk-fed babies; the point is to control and browbeat women.

  13. says

    AnotherAnonymouse, I’m so sorry you had to deal with all that harassment on top of your medical issues.

    My experience with La Leche, while not as horrifically evil as yours, was less than helpful – I went to one meeting hoping to get help for when I had to go back to work. I was roundly scolded for having a job at all, and told that the baby would suffer from “nipple confusion” if I so much as let her near a bottle.

    I still went back to work. My mother, who was taking care of my then three-month-old, worked with her and got her to take a bottle. I was also less than successful at pumping (and got no support at work, I had to pump in a bathroom stall), so the baby got a mix of formula and what I could pump for her.

    On the other hand, on the occasions when I had to nurse in public, I got more supportive comments (and offers of a chair, at a craft fair) than criticism.

    Daughter’s 25 now. I think she survived not being “properly” breastfed.

  14. Gordon Willis says

    “nipple confusion” ? nipple confusion ??

    After all, the point is not milk-fed babies; the point is to control and browbeat women
    the point is to control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women
    control and browbeat women


  15. karmacat says

    I should elaborate on what I said. When I said medical decision, I imagine a discussion between the woman and the pediatrician. And of course the decision is always up to the mother. The doctor or healthcare worker is there to provide information.
    I had a c-section and found the lactation nurses very annoying. They kept telling I need to pump or the milk won’t come in. It is hard to be enthusiastic about anything after a c-section. The ob nurse was more worried about how I was doing and whether or not I was in pain. I talked to other mothers who had better experiences at another hospital. I tried to breastfeed my son for 6 weeks but he just wasn’t doing this. I pumped for 5 months.
    But breastfeeding really isn’t critical when you have formula available. It is like telling someone they could be a little healthier by eating spinach. But overall, you will be fine if you don’t eat spinach. And your baby will be fine too.

  16. AnotherAnonymouse says

    @Anne D; so glad you got support! Glad your daughter made it to adulthood obviously healthy and successful! Despite LLL’s dire predictions that any baby who was formula fed would be stunted, mentally retarded, and perpetually ill, my HELLP Syndrome preemie is now 6’3″, in college studying physics, and in good health. LLL just had an agenda that anyone who wasn’t chained to the home in a prairie dress and simultaneously nursing her 12-year-old, 11-year-old, 10-year-old, 9-year-old, and so forth down the line, simply was not a “real” woman.

    I imagine it’ll go about the same in the UAE.


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