I’m writing, yet again, about discrimination and breastfeeding in public. You’re probably thinking ‘Oh god, will she ever shut up? I’m sick of reading about it!’ And honestly, I’m sick of writing about it. I figure, people need to stop doing it (discriminating, that is) and leave mothers to get on with feeding their kids in peace, so I, and people like me, can shut the hell up about it and not consider renaming our websites “Yes, I breast feed. So what, go away, mind your own business.” But it seems there are still businesses and people out there who don’t know the law or just don’t give a damn about the law, and feel that their tender sensibilities trump the needs of a hungry baby who has the right to be fed in comfort.
Bruce and Ling Sands recently went to their local Thai restaurant for a meal, taking along their 12 week old baby. During the course of their meal, Ling paused to breastfeed her baby. According to the Sands family, the wait staff were initially very friendly and helpful, but a different person brought out Bruce’s meal and this was the point at which things soured.
“She placed the food down and started to walk away but only took a step or two and turned to my wife and said “You need to cover up in public.” My wife responded “Why?” The lady said “Because it’s bothering customers.” My wife responded again with “Why?” The lady repeated “Because, it’s bothering customers” and walked away. Only 2 other people were sitting in our area and one had their back to us, so really only one person might have been able to see her.
This upset me so I walked back to the front desk and confirmed she was, in fact, the owner. I asked her if she knew that what she just did was illegal. She said “Not here.” I told her that in itself was illegal. We went back and forth with this, then, she finely said she didn’t care and said “Not here!” at this point I was getting really frustrated. I said to her “Do you really want me to prove to you it is illegal?” The owner and another gentleman with her answered “Yes.”
I said “Ok, but if this goes further you won’t like the outcome.” I went back to our table and pulled up the legislation, I spent a few minutes reviewing it. Then, I again went back to the desk and read it to them, she and the man listened then the lady shrugged her shoulders and repeated “Not here.” … I asked her to apologize to my wife and said we’d let this go. She said “No” I tried again, same answer. We paid and left.” -Bruce Sands
Bruce and Ling Sands at the Nurse-In outside KB Thai
The Sands family got in touch with Victoria Brookman, who started the Facebook page ‘Lactivists Australia’ after the Nurse-In outside Sunrise early this year organised by myself and fellow breast feeding mother, Ash Zuko. Lactivists Australia is a Facebook community page dedicated to ending the harassment of breastfeeding women. Through the Lactivists page, Victoria quickly put the word out about an upcoming Nurse-In outside KB Thai in Woy Woy, NSW.
“We will peacefully protest anywhere that discriminates against breastfeeding mothers until the message gets through – women can breastfeed anywhere they are legally allowed to be.” -Victoria Brookman.
Prior to the vent, KB Thai issued the following excuse:
The event went smoothly with the exception of the staff member who apparently decided it would be good PR to come outside and yell at the gathering of mothers and supporters. An article in the local Central Coast Advocate quotes the business owner who claims the offending staff member was simply offering Ling a towel.
(Source: http://newslocal.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx Page 7)
So what was it, KB Thai? A language barrier or a friendly towel offer? Either way, I can honestly say I’ve never needed a towel to breastfeed! After the event, KB Thai posted the following denial:
I’ve put together a handy checklist or businesses who find themselves in the unhappy predicament of having tried to interfere, in any way, with a mother feeding a baby.
Supporters at the Nurse-In
Good on Woy Woy Leagues for showing their support.
The Facebook page run by the restaurant has been inundated with messages of support for breastfeeding mothers as well as the usual assortment of people voicing their belief that their comfort level is more important than a baby’s right to fed. Seriously guys, that might be your opinion, but it’s getting really old. the simple fact is opinion is not in keeping with the law. End of story.
Update- following a complaint to the HRC, KB Thai has issued an apology to the Sands family and added a note to their advertising welcoming nursing mothers. Fantastic outcome!