By Nidhi Kinhal
The taboo of public nursing, paired with the lack of designated spaces for breastfeeding in public areas, makes mothers’ jobs harder than it already is, but not anymore.
Hundred railway stations across the country will now have a private space in waiting rooms dedicated to lactating mothers, so women travelling with their babies, and waiting for long hours at the station can comfortably breastfeed their children. This is an initiative by the railway ministry, and the women and child development ministry; instructions have been issued to all zonal authorities to provide this facility. Maneka Gandhi, the women and child development minister, who had written to railway minister Suresh Prabhu after complaints from many women about the problem, said, “Breastfeeding is extremely important for the health of a child. We stand for clean, safe and exclusive areas in public places where women can breastfeed their children peacefully.” Pointing to the lack of infrastructure at railway stations, she added, “I hope this facility will be extended to all railway stations.”
The railway board has reported that the instructions, issued on June 8, will provide a small table and a chair, with a partition or screen around it. “As of date, more than 100 waiting halls have been provided with this facility”, they said in their letter to the WCD ministry secretary.
It’s reflective of the obscenity of the public gaze to think that even these private spaces need a careful, “appropriate partition or screen around it”; we can always do more with regard to the policing of pregnant and nursing women. However, the small infrastructural provision that can lead to massive increase in privacy, comfort and convenience for nursing women, is worth appreciating.