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Who criminalised breastfeeding in public?

When hunger pangs bite, you take a snack and munch it. So, why can’t a baby nurse in public? Why are mothers who do that still frowned upon?

Sandra Wekesa @andayisandra

Early this week, an embittered woman, going by the moniker Betty Kim stirred up conversations on Facebook. She ranted how ill a restaurant in Nairobi treated her when she breastfed her baby who is one year and four months in public.

Betty who claims to be a regular customer at Nairobi’s Olive Restaurant located in the CBD around Embassava stage says, “On Monday I decided to stop by the hotel at around lunch time.

My baby started crying … I decided to breastfeed her. I didn’t find anything about that uncouth, in fact I was relieved that I was at the hotel since it was raining outside,”said Betty Betty claims that it wasn’t long before a waiter approached her saying breastfeeding in the hotel is prohibited because it amount to indecent exposure. “I couldn’t think straight at that time since I felt offended.

Breastfeeding in public. Photo/Courtesy

Actually my day started on a bad note and for her to approach me regarding my breastfeeding made it worse, I felt devastated.

I couldn’t do anything about it, so I finished my meal and walked out of the hotel,” said Betty.

And hell has no fury like a woman scorned. Betty shared her experience on Facebook.

Women were offended. They have planned for a breastfeeding awareness match on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Attempts to reach the hotel manager were futile.

However, Justus Musimi, the hotel supervisor, claimed nothing of that sort had happened in their hotel.

“I always supervise our clients in this hotel. It’s my duty to make sure they are having the best time anytime they decide to use our services.

We must admit that we saw the post, but nothing of that sort happened in our hotel,” he said. In his defense, he claimed that the incident might have happened in the surrounding hotels.

“We are surrounded by many hotels of which ours prove to be a busy one and stands out compared to the rest,” he added. We also requested to get access to their surveillance camera, but they refused.

Ken Ouko, a sociologist, strongly believes that, the process of breastfeeding is one of those divine marvels. “To those who believe in the natural order, breastfeeding still qualifies as a marvel of mother nature.

The biggest paradox about breastfeeding is that a woman’s breasts are classified as part of her eco-erogenous zone and the very sight of well-rounded breasts is enough to cause an upsurge of erotic heat in men.

For this selfishly warped masculine reason alone, the natural and divine purpose of a woman’s breasts usually gets drowned in the mire of confusion as to whether breastfeeding in public qualifies as indecent exposure,” says Ouko.

He adds that to the feminists, breastfeeding in full glare of ogling men is a statement of femme-freedom and any attempt by anyone to cast aspersions on this act is taken as libelous affront on the actionable rights of women all over the world.

“Women have always advanced the argument that when they expose their breasts in other circumstances unrelated to breastfeeding, they are elevated to super sexy status by men who openly ogle and drool.

Therefore, it is foolhardy for the selfsame men to turn up their noses when women expose their breasts during breastfeeding,” he adds. Also the most solid argument in support of breastfeeding in public is that breastfeeding is recommended as the sole source of nutrition for infants, especially between zero to six months.

So, if the baby is in need, it shouldn’t matter where the mother is in a public place or not. Men who feign disgust at public breastfeeding, Ouko says, need to be reminded that “What happens in the dark always comes to light” in reference to their affinity to the same breasts under the cover of sheets.

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