Dozens of breastfeeding mothers gather in Rabin Square to feed their babies, after a woman in a shopping mall was forced to move. Protest group’s founder,’We just had enough,’
Bill in motion to fine harassers of breastfeeding women.
By Liat Rotem Melamed
Dozens of mothers breast fed their offspring in an orchestrated demonstration in central Tel Aviv, protesting the negative response to public breastfeeding while overt sexual innuendo and semi-nudity in advertisements are the norm.
The protest was sparked by a well-publicized incident in which a mother who breast fed her child in a mall in central Israel was required by the mall’s manager to move to a side room.
“I was at the mall with the two kids, my two-year-old daughter and my son, born six weeks ago,” Hani Stern told Ynet. “When the baby started crying I decided to sit in a quiet corner to breast feed him.
“A short while after I started the mall manager arrived, backed by a security guard, and told me forcefully that this is not the place for what I’m doing, and that I should stop. She told me there’s a breastfeeding room upstairs and that I’m required to move there.”
Stern told the manager that the room is very small and dank, and that the baby was in distress and that she had no time to wait.
“But she insisted that a baby’s crying is not considered distress, and repeated that this is not the place to breastfeed,” Stern recounted. Noticing that the manager was causing a scene, Stern stopped breastfeeding and left the mall. “It was a horrible humiliation,” she said.
The incident galvanized public support and even sparked a bill, initiated by Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg, which will put into law the right of breastfeeding mothers harassed in public places to sue for damages.
“We just had enough,” said Tamar Ne’eman-Golan, one of the founders of a protest group which fights the exclusion of breastfeeding mothers from the public sphere.
“Every so often this or that story surfaces about another woman humiliated in public because she did the most natural thing breasts were made for: feeding babies.
“The stories which surfaced are outliers, but every breastfeeding mother is subject to criticism and attempts at exclusion from the public sphere – and we just had it.”
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4453591,00.html