Taj Mahal, built as a monument to a woman, who died in childbirth, is going to be the first Indian monument to have exclusive ‘baby feeding’ rooms, which intends to give privacy to breastfeeding mothers.
Vasant Kumar Swarnkar, an official at the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) said that the rooms set aside for breastfeeding would be set up by July to help “millions of mothers who visit with their babies”. He decided to take this after witnessing a mother concealing herself behind a staircase and struggling to feed her baby, despite the husband covering her to protect her privacy.
He continued by saying “I could see it was difficult for her (to feed her child), which is basic motherhood right. So I thought we have to do something” while talking to Reuters. He further said, the process of identifying places is already in motion and is likely to be ready within 2 months. The rooms will have facilities such as a fan, table, chair and light.
As per reports ASI will be establishing ‘Baby Feeding’ rooms at two other popular World Heritage Sites i.e., Fatehpur Sikri and Agra Fort. It is the first time ASI is providing such a facility at any of India’s 3,600 plus monuments.
The Taj Mahal is a popular tourist attraction that attracts almost 8 million visitors every year. Public breastfeeding still carries a social stigma in India, therefore, such an initiative is very welcoming news.
While there is no law in our country that bans women from nursing their infant in public, it has been found that most times the surroundings are not apt and cause them a lot of embarrassment.
Last year, mothers in the eastern city of Kolkata protested after a mall department store asked a woman who was breastfeeding at the store to do it in the bathroom, even saying she should “take off her home chores at home.”
Such issues persist internationally as well. In 2017, the director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum had to apologize for asking a mother to cover up while breastfeeding. Another incident took place in 2015 where a breastfeeding mother was expelled from Spain’s Corral del Carbon monument.
Swarnkar said to Reuters, “My hope is that more and more monuments – not only in India but around the world – replicate this (plan) so that women can feed their babies comfortably.”