The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided to introduce baby feeding rooms at three World Heritage Sites namely, Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. This is undoubtedly, a progressive step from ASI as this will provide lactating mothers with the much needed privacy. This is for the first time in the country that any world heritage site will be providing with such a facility. They share one more common feature; they are all in Agra city of Uttar Pradesh. “Such a facility will be provided at a monument in India for the first time. The decision has been taking after observing the difficulties faced by breastfeeding mothers,” a Times of India report quoted ASI superintending archaeologist, Vasant Swarankar, as saying.
The idea to introduce baby feeding rooms in public areas was first initiated in 2015, when around 351 bus depots in Chennai were chosen to be equipped with breastfeeding rooms.
Previously, breastfeeding rooms in bus depots
The idea to introduce baby feeding rooms in public areas was first initiated in 2015, when around 351 bus depots in Chennai were chosen to be equipped with breastfeeding rooms. The facility was introduced as a part of World Breastfeeding Week celebrations.
The officer said that the decision to introduce breastfeeding rooms was taken after observing the difficulties that women had to face in breast feeding in public. “The situation turns even more embarrassing on days when there is a rush of tourists. Considering this, the ASI decided to give the breastfeeding women some space.” the official added.
Incidents where breastfeeding led to embarrassment for the mother
At the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2017, a woman was asked to cover up while she was breastfeeding her child at the museum. The director of museum, however, had apologised later for this incident. The woman also took to social media to post her experience and termed the irony of breastfeeding at the museum as, “filled with naked depictions of women”. Earlier, in 2015, a woman was asked to leave a historic tourist attraction in Spanish city of Granada, only because she was breastfeeding her infant in public. The woman went to visit the historical place with her nine-month old infant and her husband when her baby began to cry, while she was breastfeeding her baby; a security guard saw her and asked her to leave.
Maternity Benefit Act requires employers to provide new mothers with breastfeeding breaks for nursing their child. These breast feeding breaks are fully paid and are to be continued until the child reached 15 months of age.
Maternity Benefit Act (Amended), 2016
This act requires employers to provide new mothers with breastfeeding breaks for nursing their child. These breast feeding breaks are fully paid and are to be continued until the child reached 15 months of age. However, the duration of these breaks is not mentioned under the act. The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India then issued the guidelines in November 2018. The salient points are:
- One creche for every 30 children between the age six months to six years of all types of employees.
- The creche must be located at the workplace or within 500 meters of the establishment.
- Employers are required to employ one creche worker along with a helper for every 10 children under the age of three years and for every 20 children between the age group of 3-6 years.