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Set up baby-care corners in all public places

High Court orders

Published : 20 Sep 2023 02:04 AM

The High Court in a verdict has ordered setting up of breastfeeding and baby-care corners in all public places and private institutions across the country such as workplaces, airports, bus stands, railway stations and shopping malls.

The HC bench of Justice Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury and Justice Kazi Ebadoth Hossain issued the order in the written verdict of a writ petition. The full text of the verdict was published on Tuesday (September 19)

The two HC judges gave this verdict for the first time in the judicial history of Bangladesh following a 9-month-old child’s writ petition. At the end of the written verdict, the higher court mentioned that ‘never before a 9-month-old child filed a writ. This child created history’.

The verdict states that the issue of breastfeeding is very sensitive and important. There is no denying that a baby needs breast milk from birth to two years. 

Many lactating mothers work in various public and private sectors. However, they face problem. Therefore, it is necessary to have a breastfeeding room in all types of institutions in the country.

Earlier on April 2 this year, the HC bench delivered the short verdict. And the court released the full text of the verdict on September 19. On October 24 in 2019, nine-month-old baby Umair Bin Sadi and his mother Advocate Israt Hasan filed the writ petition seeking a safe atmosphere for breastfeeding. In the writ petition, the mother said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2009 had directed the authorities concerned to establish breastfeeding corners and day care centres at all public and private workplaces in order to ensure safe motherhood and to ensure a healthy environment for children. But the directives of the PM are yet to be fully implemented, the petition said.

Following the writ petition, the High Court had issued a rule asking the authorities concerned to explain as to why directives should not be given to set up breastfeeding and baby-care corners at workplaces, airports, bus stops, railway stations and shopping malls across the country. The higher court had also wanted to know why the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs should not be directed to formulate guidelines to establish breastfeeding corners in public places and private institutions.  

After pronouncement of the verdict, Advocate Ishrat Hasan told media that mothers feel uneasy to feed their children at the workplaces, shopping malls, airports, bus stoppages and railway stations as there is no specific breastfeeding and baby care corners.

Regarding the verdict, the lawyer said, “This is a landmark verdict in the country to protect the rights of mothers and children. This judgment is undoubtedly a historic judgment on the right to life, one of the fundamental rights recognised in Article 32 of the country’s Constitution. Four years of legal battle for me and my baby in the High Court has been successful. The court has recognised our hard work in the judgment.”

She also said, “I think that Bangladesh will create an example for the whole world, which will be followed by other countries, if the establishment of breast feeding rooms and baby care corners is completed everywhere according to the court’s verdict.”

Umair Bin Sadi went to visit Cox's Bazar with his parents. Later, they arrived in Cox's Bazar Airport on the way back to Dhaka after visiting the sea beach. The flight delayed for several hours. However, the child began crying with hunger. To stop the crying of the hungry child, the mother took the initiative to breastfeed. But she was not getting any environment to breastfeed the baby. After coming to Dhaka, the mother Advocate Israt Hasan filed this writ petition in the High Court with her child Umair Bin Sadi.

Advocate Israt Hasan said that at that time that many workplaces or bus and train stations do not have breastfeeding corners, so mothers have to suffer. Mothers cannot breastfeed their babies due to lack of safe environment and fear of sexual harassment. But mother’s breast milk is most needed for mental and physical growth and nutrition of a child. Thousands of mothers face this problem.