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Renson Mwakandana

A Tanzanian lawmaker has accused men of suckling milk intended for babies. Men competing for breast milk with babies, according to a cross-section of MPs, is a form of abuse because it deprives the children of much-needed nutrients, leading to malnutrition.

In her submission to Parliament, Jacqueline Msongozi is heard in an undated video claiming that men oppress babies. 

“A group of men, fathers, are exploiting children’s rights by suckling milk meant for babies,” she began in Swahili.

Jacqueline Msongozi

Msongozi pleaded with the ministry to intervene and come to the babies’ rescue, adding that this behavior is seen in different wards. 

“Instead of babies getting the nutrients they need from breast milk, these men take up everything, and the children suffer as a result.”

Jacqueline Msongozi

“These men, especially those who take liquor, get a relief from breast milk as their hangover is reduced,” the Viti Maalum MP added. According to lawmakers, some men take the milk from their breastfeeding wives because they discovered that breast milk contains nutrients that relieve hangovers.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), three out of every five children are not breastfed within the first hour of their lives.

However, nearly two out of every three infants are not breastfed exclusively for the recommended six months—a rate that has not improved in two decades.

Breast milk is the best food for babies. It is safe, clean, and contains antibodies that aid in the prevention of many common childhood illnesses.

Various studies have shown that it is believed when men suck their partners’ breasts, the risk of breast cancer is reduced. However, some Tanzanian men have overdone it, resulting in child starvation and underweight babies.

Regardless of public awareness campaigns, this tradition is not new in East Africa, specifically in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda.

Last August, during an event to mark World Breastfeeding Week among women, Handeni District Commissioner Toba Nguvila warned men against the practice after the breast milk craze reportedly hit some men in Tanga.

According to the commissioner, some women have complained about their men developing a rare taste for breast milk, denying their children much-needed nutrients and leaving them malnourished.

The practice was promoted by the narrative that it improves sexual performance and muscle building in men.

According to a study conducted by Kyambogo University in Kampala and the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, men were breastfed at least once a day for one hour before the baby was fed.

Some interviewees stated that it energized them and even relieved their stress.

Some say it’s a way for men to initiate sex and affection with their wives, but it’s usually more effective with new mothers.

In some parts of Uganda, the practice has been linked to gender-based violence, particularly when men become drunk and become violent towards their wives when they demand to suckle.

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