On Monday 3rd May 2013 the situation of children’s rights in Israel, including the Occupied Palestinian Territories, have been reviewed by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC Committee) at its 23rd session.
The International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) presented an alternative report on the situation of infant and young child feeding.
The issue of breastfeeding was tackled by the CRC Committee that asked about the absence of a database for the collection of data and of a law on marketing of breastmilk substitutes and about the situation of BFHI and of maternity protection at work.
In particular, one Committee mentioned the maternity protection law providing that a female employee who is prohibited from working at certain jobs by law because of her breastfeeding is entitled to be excused from work and this absence is tantamount to leave without pay and asked clarification on its interpretation in order to avoid discrimination of women that decide to breastfeed.
The delegation could not answer all the questions due to time restraints; however they reported improvements in breastfeeding rates as they already reached the goals set by the government for the year 2020. To further support breastfeeding, each government facility must provide space for breastfeeding or for expressing breastmilk.
The delegation also explained how the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is enforced is some situations, for example vis-à-vis advertising companies. In addition, they mentioned the 2003 Remedia case concerning a bulk of imported infant formula that lead to some children dying and some other being irreversibly harmed due to lack of a fundamental vitamin, and as a result all imported formula is now carefully examined. It was also noted that HIV positive mothers are given free breastmilk substitutes.
Finally, the Committee was concerned by reports of delays at checkpoints also involving pregnant women that are seeking medical assistance.
The delegation informed that within the West Bank all roadblocks have been removed and therefore there are no restrictions on the freedom of movement. To enter Jerusalem there still are checkpoints and roadblocks but there are not recent reports of delays in passage of pregnant women and all the military personnel is specifically trained to let though medical cases as expeditiously as possible.