Women have staged a mass breastfeeding protest outside a hotel in London after it told a mother to cover herself with an over-sized napkin.
The mass nurse-in was co-ordinated by Free to Feed in an effort to get Claridge’s to apologise and change its policy. Emily Slough, 28, created the campaign group in March after being labelled a “tramp” for public breastfeeding. “We are here today because Claridge’s has yet to issue an apology.
It has yet to change its currently illegal policy saying that breastfeeding mothers must be discreet. It’s not up to Claridge’s to decide what it thinks is discreet,” she said.
The row erupted after Louise Burns from Streatham tweeted a picture of herself showing the “ridiculous shroud” she had been asked to cover herself with by a waiter at Claridge’s, to avoid offending other guests, while she fed her 13-week-old daughter.
Breastfeeding in public places is allowed, and since the Equality Act came into effect in October 2010, treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding is classed as discrimination.
The row was fuelled when Ukip leader Nigel Farage defended the hotel. During an LBC broadcast, he said it was up to venues to decide their rules and that some people were uncomfortable with “ostentatious” breastfeeding.
Businesses may ask mothers to “perhaps sit in a corner”, he suggested. A Number 10 spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister shares the view of the NHS, which is that breastfeeding is completely natural and it’s totally unacceptable for any women to be made to feel uncomfortable.”
Another protester at Claridge’s yesterday, Tracey Ormes, 39, said: “We’re encouraged from the minute our children are born to breastfeed, but then there’s nowhere for us to do so in comfort. Is breastfeeding OK because it’s best for the baby or is just best for the baby behind closed doors?”
A spokesperson for Claridge’s said: “Of course we allow women to breastfeed – we just ask them to be discreet.” Spoof restaurant signs asking Ukip members to sit in a corner and be covered by a cloth are circulating widely on social media.
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