in Public -- a Human Rights Issue
be empowered, women must have not only the ability to act, but
also the right to do so. One of the obstacles to breastfeeding
continues to be concern over whether or not it is acceptable to
do so in public. Some women fear offending others if they breastfeed
in public places. We believe that women have the right to breastfeed
whenever and wherever they want. Communities need to be sensitized
to the ways in which they can actively support breastfeeding.
What would you do if you, or someone you know, was asked
to leave a public place because they were breastfeeding? What
are your rights? At INFACT Canada we receive calls every month
from women who find themselves in this situation. A public place
can be defined as anywhere you go that does not require a personal
invitation. If this happens to you there are several possible
courses of action. You can:
- Stand your ground and refuse to leave. Calmly but confidently
state your right to feed your infant without discrimination.
Unfortunately many new mothers feel intimidated in such situations,
and it is often after they have had time to think about what
has happened that they wish to respond in some way
- Lodge a formal complaint with your provincial
- Write to your local community newspapers about the incident
- Let your local councilor, school trustee, MP and MPP know.
Choose the government official connected with the actual place
where the incident occurred, for example if you are asked to
leave a school setting it would be best to go to the local school
trustee with your complaint. If you are unsure start with local
councilors and MPPs
- Contact your local public health unit. They can provide you
with suggestions on how to proceed and can probably put you in
touch with local breastfeeding networks or coalitions
- Let INFACT Canada know firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Boycott the place where the incident occurred and encourage
friends and family to do the same. It is a good idea to let the
facility know what you are doing and why
Provincial Human Rights
Do You Know Your Rights?
Women on the frontlines
Michelle Poirier versus the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs