Taipei, March 28 (CNA) Taipei City will take the lead April 1 toadopt a regulation aimed at encouraging the establishment ofbreastfeeding rooms in public areas and allowing women to breastfeedin public spaces.
The regulation is being adopted by the Taipei City government inresponse to a push by several civic groups after an incident thatoccurred in 2005 when a woman was expelled from Taipei Story House,an arts exhibition hall, for breastfeeding her baby there.
Since that incident, several civic groups, including theBreastfeeding Association of Taiwan, have been pushing forlegislation to protect the right of women to breastfeed in public.
The association held a gala at the city government plaza Sundayto celebrate Taipei City's imminent implementaton of the regulation,with a number of nursing mothers and their infants depicting othermammals.
The regulation stipulates that women should not be banned,dispersed, disturbed or asked to move if they are breastfeeding theirbabies in public places such as parks, roadsides or departmentstores, or on buses or MRT trains.
Violators of the regulation will be subject to fines ranging fromNT$5,000 to NT$30,000.
A national breastfeeding bill, drafted by the Bureau of NationalHealth Insurance, was approved by the Cabinet in January and has beenforwarded to the Legislative Yuan.
Lin Yi-chun, chairperson of the association, urged legislators topass the bill as soon as possible.
However, the private sector is not enthusiastic about thedevelopments, according to a survey conducted by the Taipei CityDepartment of Labor last December.
Most Taipei-based companies are not very keen on setting upbreastfeeding rooms for the convenience of female employees, thesurvey showed.
Only 3.9 percent of the companies in Taipei City hadbreastfeeding rooms on their premises in 2009, the survey found.
Some 39.3 percent of the companies that did not havebreastfeeding rooms said it was because they lacked space, accordingto the poll.
Nearly 28 percent of the 608 companies surveyed said it was notnecessary for them to have such a space because their employees donot fall into the demographic of new or expectant mothers.
According to 10.3 percent of the respondents, their reasons fornot installing breastfeeding rooms included the fact that theirfemale employees considered it unnecessary.
Some companies said their employees are either past childbearingage or are predominantly male.
According to the Cabinet-level Department of Health, 54.3 percentof Taiwan's women breastfeed in the first month after their babiesare born, but the percentage falls to 37.9 percent two months laterand to 25.8 percent four months down the line.
(By Chen Ching-fang and Deborah Kuo)