Breastfeeding rights violated worldwide

NANCY EL-GAMEL
Last updated 05:00 05/07/2014
breast-feeding the base
SUPPLIED

RIGHT THING TO DO: Anjula Manga and her baby, centre, supported by other breastfeeding mothers at a protest at Te Awa mall at The Base, Hamilton.

Angelina Manga
Peter Meecham/Fairfax NZ
ASHAMED: Anjula Manga said she felt embarrassed and ashamed after a staff member at The Base asked her not to feed her newborn at the Te Awa food court.

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Anjula Manga is not alone in being told to stop breastfeeding in public and button up her blouse.

Manga, who won national support after being told to leave Te Awa Mall's food court in Hamilton on Sunday, is one of at least a dozen women told to pack it in across the world since 2011.

"I'm shocked. I can't believe there has been that many people and nothing has been done about it," Manga said.

Facebook has removed breastfeeding photos from several users' pages.

Manga struggled to understand how pictures of Rhianna's see-through dress at the CFDA awards could be shared on social media while breastfeeding could not.

"That is totally wrong. There is more cleavage in everyday life. That is disgusting."

Ashley Hollings had a blanket draped over her at a Waitakere Work and Income office last September, and in Wanaka Catherine Owen was escorted from the district court for breastfeeding in 2012 when Judge Kevin Phillips took exception.

"Would they rather they had a screaming baby? It's just a lack of awareness and I'm not saying it should be in people's faces but breastfeeding is OK! It's not a sexual activity."

In Wellington, Jayshriben Patel was sent to breastfeed in the toilet at an Indian Community Hall.

In the United States, Delta Airlines used Twitter to tell Lyndsay Jaynes she could not breastfeed on an aircraft without a cover-up and demanded she feed her child from a bottle. And another woman was accused of indecent exposure by a Target store employee.

Staff at a Canadian clothing store asked a mother to stop nursing her five-month-old girl in the shop.

In Britain a leisure centre lifeguard was offended by a breastfeeding mother, and a journalist refused to stop feeding her baby when confronted by a security guard.

An Australian woman took to Huggies.co.nz when she was told she wasn't in the right area to breastfeed her child at a baby expo.

Under the Human Rights Act, in New Zealand it is illegal for someone to stop you breastfeeding in public.

Manga said awareness needed to be raised.

"Every company should have the words ‘You cannot ask a woman to stop breastfeeding in public' written into their handbook."

For now, Manga is angry that other mothers are having to experience the embarrassment and shame she was made to feel this week.

"There is an excuse for everything. I would just like a personal apology. Not one that is online to their customers for damage control. When my girls grow up, what is my eight-year-old's opinion on breastfeeding going to be? She was so shaken up by the whole incident. She needs someone to tell her her mummy was right."

The director of La Leche League, Alison Stanton, said this latest incident had raised awareness but individuals and businesses both "need to work together to support and protect breastfeeding".

"There are still attitudes that are harming a woman's right to breastfeed and naturally respond to their babies."

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*Nancy El-Gamel is a Wintec journalism student.

- Waikato Times

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