Kozhikode: Judicial first class magistrate court (II), Thamarassery here on Friday convicted a woman who refused to breastfeed her newborn baby. The court imposed a fine of Rs 1000 and asked the woman to remain standing outside the court until it dispersed.

 The court awarded the sentence under sections 75  (Causing unnecessary mental and physical suffering to child) and 87 (Abetting offence) of Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act. Meanwhile the court acquitted other two accused, her husband and a religious preacher.

The punishment came on a case registered by Mukkam police based on a complaint that the woman delayed breastfeeding after her superstitious husband prevented her from breastfeeding  the newborn for 21 hours, insisting that a newborn should be breastfed only after hearing prayer calls from mosques five times.

 The incident occurred in November 2016 when Hafsath, 24, hailing from Omassery from Kozhikode district gave birth to her second child at EMS Cooperative Hospital in Mukkam. Hafsath refused to breastfeed the baby when asked to do so by doctors and the nursing staff.

She revealed to hospital staff that her husband Aboobacker Sidique had prohibited her from breastfeeding the baby until five prayer calls from mosque, since the birth of the baby. This was based on the advice by a preacher that newborns should not be breastfed before the calls for prayers were completed.

 The incident triggered widespread protest against the parents and spiritual leader. Many social and political organisations demanded action against the spiritual leader and parents. Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights had intervened in the issue and directed the police to register case based on the complaint. Later, the police had registered a case against Hafsath, Aboobacker Siddique and spiritual leader Kalamthod Hydrose Thangal, based on the complaint lodged by hospital authorities.