A group of nursing mothers staged a breastfeeding protest in front the National Academy of the Performing Arts (Napa), Port-of-Spain, yesterday, after two mothers were prevented from breastfeeding their babies during a children's play in the academy's auditorium.The protest was organised by The Informative Breastfeeding Service (Tibs) to show solidarity with the two women and to protest Napa's policy on being a breastfeeding exclusion zone.
Antonia Sealy was prevented from breastfeeding her 12-month-old son Giovanni during the play Phantom of the Napa at Napa, last Sunday, when she was told by a male usher that no beverages were allowed in the auditorium.Dixie-Ann Baptiste-Knight said the same male usher prevented her from breastfeeding her three-month-old son Caiden also during the play, telling her breastfeeding babies threw up on the seats and carried communicable diseases.
Tibs executive officer Rosemary Anatol said, "This gathering is in support of breastfeeding mothers to create awareness about the importance of breastfeeding, and it's also a protest against Napa's policy to not allow breastfeeding mothers in the auditorium and we hope that it will change."We're very concerned about the comments that were made by the usher such as babies spread communicable diseases and that babies spit up on the seats.
"It was really very crass...it certainly is not supportive of breastfeeding and this is a public space where mothers and families come."If we want to improve the health of the nation and be in line with international standards like the US, UK and other countries, you cannot discriminate against women who are breastfeeding, which is what they are doing here."
Sheetal Daswani, 37 weeks pregnant with her second child, said to prevent a mother from breastfeeding while watching a show and not disturbing anyone around her was a denial of her human rights.Daswani said shunting the women to a VIP room was even more of an insult because nobody has problems with breasts in this country during Carnival, and apparently it was an issue and a case of double standards and didn't make sense.
Dr Gabrielle Hosein, lecturer at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, the University of the West Indies, said women should not be forced to make choices that will make them feel isolated, disempowered or uncomfortable.