Love it or hate it: in most states women are allowed to breastfeed in public. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of that fact--restaurant, store, and mall managers included. Being that the majority of the population is not well versed in breastfeeding law, mothers with their boobs out tend to get involved in awkward situations.
Due to an incident at a Hollister store in Texas, breastfeeding advocates across the country staged a nationwide nurse-in. In most malls, the protests went smoothly: mothers and babies just nursing away. However, the events at one Delaware mall led to the police being called and a Facebook page bitchfest. Someone from the mall was quoted as saying: "I hope you don't mind if suck on my wife's breast in public."
More after the jump.
Last Saturday's nurse-in was the result of an incident that took place in Houston, Texas. Brittany Warfield was sitting on a bench, nursing in front of the store, when a Hollister manager walked over to verbally accost her. According to Nirvana Jennette of Breastfeeding Peaches of Georgia, when the woman attempted to contact the corporate office, her only response was a customer satisfaction survey. "This was not Hollister's first incident," says Jennette, "In 2010 a mother was breastfeeding in the stores fitting room, when a manager opened the curtain and told her she needed to leave. Nothing came of it then. A national nurse-in was scheduled." No apology was ever received.
For the most part, last week's nurse-ins came and went without a hiccup: minus Delaware's Concorde Mall. According to Rochelle Brooks, Nationwide Hollister Nurse-In Co-Host, "Most participants were met with pleasant responses from the store managers, however Diana Hitchens was not. Management of the Concord Mall called the security guards on Diana when she began nursing her baby outside of a Hollister. The security guards told Diana that she had to leave because she was not allowed to nurse her child in the Mall, rather she needed to either leave or feed her child in the bathroom. When Diana told them that they were breaking the law, the security guards called the Police, who then came and questioned Diana. The Police could not do anything, as she was in her right to nurse her child both on public and private property, however security continued to follow Diana around the mall for as long as she stayed and she felt very intimidated and as though she was being treated like a criminal."
In response, breastfeeding advocates posted a complaint on the mall's facebook page. This where things went sourly wrong. The mall's facebook administrator responded with "It was an eyesore," and "Hope you guys don't mind if I suck on my wife's breast in public." Another commenter replied with the actual Delaware law, which clarifies a mother's right to breastfeed in public. The facebook page has since been removed.
The mall has since come out with a public statement of apology on their website:
On Saturday January 5, there was a protest organized at the Hollister store regarding a mother's right to breastfeed her child. Two officers from a security agency that works with the Mall responded to the protest in a manner that the protesters have indicated was inappropriate. These two officers have been removed from the Mall pending further investigation. The Concord Mall has never had an issue with any mother breastfeeding her children in the Mall and intends to fully comply with the law permitting this activity. We apologize to our customers and tenants and the protesters for any inconvenience this situation may have caused. The Concord Mall is making every effort to properly train all officers regarding a mother's right to breastfeed her child.
Advocacy groups are currently working on scheduling a nurse-in at the Concord Mall on January 20. There are also talks about a boycott of Hollister and its other stores: details are still be hashed out.
For more information, visit the Breastfeeding Peaches of Georgia facebook page here.
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