Earlier this month, the mother of a one-month-old baby was asked to leave an Edgars store after attempting to breastfeed her baby. Tasneem Botha expressed her humiliation about the incident on social media which raised further concerns about the stigma attached to this natural act.
The store reportedly apologised to Tasneem following the incident, but other mothers and fathers stood up in support of the need to breastfeed, even when occupying public spaces.
A mass breastfeeding protest took place on Saturday, 12 March in front of the Edgars store in Cavendish Square, Cape Town. The Normalise Breastfeeding SA Campaign used the incident as a platform to highlight their concerns about the way breastfeeding is addressed – not only in South Africa, but also around the world.
According to IOL, a representative of the campaign spoke out about the incident. ‘There’s a very patriarchal mindset about breast-feeding in public. If you are not being shamed by a guy, you’re being shamed by other women,’ said Anél Olsson.
‘Moms are often asked to go to a second location when they’re breastfeeding… and you don’t want to be split from your family or what you’re doing to breastfeed,’ she continued.
One of the protestors who attended with her three-month-old daughter said, ‘To deny your baby just because you need to be out and about in public is not okay.’
Edgars has since responded to the action, saying ‘We are working with breastfeeding advocacy groups to accommodate breastfeeding moms in Edcon’s stores. One is Normalise Breastfeeding SA, which we collaborated with to support a successful awareness campaign today.’
Botha did not attend the protest but has voiced her gratefulness for the support.