Equality Bill to clarify laws on breast feeding in public

In a letter to National Newspapers Minister for Women Barbara Follett MP has attacked outdated attitudes to Breast Feeding. In the past year the Government had expressed its belief that breast feeding is best for babies. Recent government communications have targeted mothers to raise awareness of those benefits. The letter to editors is aimed to raise public awareness of the inequality suffered by women who may breast feed in public, Mrs Follett explained:-

“Some people think that women can be charged with indecency for breastfeeding in a public place. This is, I am glad to say, utter nonsense and completely wrong.”

The issue has found itself in the public eye, recently the Daily Mirror published a story where a mother had been asked to leave the premises of a Macdonald’s restaurant because she was breast feeding. Outraged a group of mothers returned with a their babies and staged a mass protest, many feeding their children in the store. A spokesman from MacDonald’s explained the trainee managers decision was a mistake and this was unlikely to happen again as it was not consistent with company policy.

The issue was also debated on BBC’s radio 5 live, with a large numbers of callers expressing that they thought the act of breast feeding was indecent and should be done behind closed doors. In her letter to editors Mrs Follett explained that babies do not get hungry to order and mothers have to be confident that they can feed their infants in a café, restaurant or shop without the embarrassment of having the owner ask them to stop.   

The letter went on to explain that stopping mothers breast feeding in public is unlawful and had been for the past thirty years, protection comes from the Sex Discrimination Act. The government had also recently strengthened maternity laws in the act offering further protection to mothers.  Despite these protections, Mrs Follett believes that the current laws are still not clear enough, something the government hopes to sort out through the introduction of the equality bill.

Posted by, Asif Yusuf



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