Breastfeeding Manifesto

That’s the document spearheading a UK campaign from five royal colleges of medicine, nursing and midwifery and backed by UNICEF, which aims to introduce laws supporting breastfeeding mothers by

  • making it an offense for anyone to attempt to stop a mother breastfeeding in public
  • mandating that all employers provide nursing mothers with two half-hour breaks during the working day to devote to breastfeeding

Read the whole article (via Feministing)
(beware, there’s the usual rubbish in comments to the newspaper article comparing breastfeeding to urinating in public and lewdly failing to distinguish between the sexual and the nutritional functions of breasts)

Categories: health

Tags: , , ,

10 replies

  1. I love The F-word Blog’s post on this:

    Hear, hear. As newsagent and supermarket shelves overflow with sexualised images of breasts we as a society seem to have forgotten what they are actually designed for: feeding our young. Seeing breasts used for this purpose apparently offends the sensibilities of those who prefer their breasts safely objectified in lads’ mags, porn films and strip clubs. Sorry, lads, but I’m afraid a woman’s right to feed her child and that child’s right to be fed when it is hungry are far more important than your desire not to be reminded that breasts aren’t all about you.

  2. today’s age published a letter from an anon woman who discovered the hard way that AWA protected maternity leave is no such thing – it protects ‘up to’ 52 weeks unpaid leave. her federal government employer says that ‘up to’ includes ‘none’, so she lost her job.
    if we don’t have maternity leave, particularly paid leave, how can we stay at home long enough to get breastfeeding to work?
    and don’t get me started on the childcare rebate (suffice to say, if I can’t get a place, the rebate is meaningless)

  3. Kate: that doesn’t sound right to me (if she has worked there for 12 months already). Has she contacted the HREOC?

  4. I found the letter:

    Maternally unfair
    AMID the debate regarding maternity leave and the return of mothers to the workforce, I would like to add to Farah Farouque’s argument that Australia should implement mandatory paid maternity leave (The Age, 9/5). Few people seem aware that the revised IR laws have actually removed any right to unpaid maternity leave, let alone a guaranteed paid income.
    One of the five minimum entitlements that covers all AWAs states: “Up to 52 weeks’ unpaid maternity leave.” How exactly is “up to” a minimum?
    I learnt of this “minimum” standard the hard way when I fell pregnant on an AWA. My employer of three years sought external legal advice on what leave they could deny me without opening themselves up to a lawsuit.
    I have subsequently been denied any unpaid maternity leave and I’m a Federal Government employee.
    How does the fairness test apply to that boss?
    Name and address supplied

    I’m sure readers of The Age with actual legal expertise will advise the writer in tomorrows paper [Age Letters Page], but that strikes me as just wrong as well. The “up to” wording means that it is not compulsory for her to take a full year’s leave, not that the employer can interpret “up to” as equivalent to zero.

  5. While we’re doing post-natal period inequities, how about the Daily Terror’s headline “How Could She?”, complete with PM defending the headline, about the allegedly abandoning mother of the found baby in Victoria?
    I write “allegedly” because not once in the media coverage of this have I seen a single acknowledgement of the possibility that the mother might not have relinquished this baby willingly, that the baby might have been taken away from her by disapproving relatives or by the baby’s father. Even if she had relinquished the baby willingly I wouldn’t disapprove – if she knew she wasn’t capable for whatever reason, then I totally understand. But the possibility that the mother is anguished and restrained against her will by a person or persons ashamed or otherwise antagonistic to the pregnancy has not once been raised by the media.

  6. Our Women’s Electoral Lobby is working on a similiar initiative to the Breastfeeding Manifesto as far as ensuring that workplaces take active steps to accommodate breastfeeding women with breaks and a private space to nurse/express milk.
    I really like that British idea of actually making it an offense to ask a woman to stop breastfeeding though.

  7. I’m not 100% sure, but I think the ACT Dept of Human Rights has done something like this too. I read something of theirs when I was in hospital after Gemma’s birth which said you could feed anywhere in the ACT and couldn’t be told to leave, but I’m not sure if it’s actually an offence yet.

  8. There’s no follow-up letters on the mat leave case. I hope she has contacted the HREO Commission and a lawyer, but I imagine with a tiny person around it could all seem like more trouble than it’s worth (to her as an individual).
    The media also haven’t followed up the idea, which the police and DHS were clearly trying to get across, that mothers and babies can be sucessfully reunited and supported in these cases. Someone I know of abandoned her baby in a post-birth panic, and was later reunited with both the baby and the partner. They’ve since had a second baby and all is good.
    The PM says ‘how could she?’ because he’s never been faced with a tiny baby completely dependent on him (because Janette raised his kids for him), let alone while broke, a teenager, and/or terrified of his parents. Demonstrating his commitment to following the lowest common denominator rather than leading the Australian people once again.

  9. I’ve heard quite a few comments along the lines that it’s largely not women asking “how could she?”, especially women who have had children of their own.
    The outrage is from men who can’t stand the exposure of the rotten core of the myth that motherhood is always wonderful.
    I’m sad to hear the mother complaining of loss of maternity leave hasn’t had any responses.

%d bloggers like this: