MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Mothers in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata said they will protest outside a mall where employees told a woman to nurse her baby in a toilet and then mocked her complaint on its Facebook page.
The women said they hope to challenge what they say are increasingly conservative attitudes toward breastfeeding in public.
“Our mothers and grandmothers breastfed openly. I don’t know where this change came from,” said Trisha Ghosh Moitra, a young mother who plans to take part in the protest planned for next week.
“We want to normalize breastfeeding,” she said by phone from Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal state.
The controversy spread on social media after Abhilasha Arup Das Adhikari posted on the mall’s Facebook page that she was asked to feed her baby in a toilet.
The South City Mall responded on its page by saying that it was “funny you found this to be an issue”.
The post said that allowing Adhikari to breastfeed in the mall’s public areas would compromise the privacy of shoppers.
“It’s not like your baby needs to be breastfed at any moment so you need arrangements to be made for you at any public area,” it said.
The South City Mall apologized and explained that there are changing rooms for babies on all floors, but some were not accessible in parts of the building undergoing renovations.
“We have fired the agency that handled our Facebook account that responded to the complaint without taking our consent,” Manmohan Bagree, vice president of South City group, which operates the mall, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Some women said they were not satisfied with the mall’s response, and shared stories on Facebook that were similar to Adhikari’s experience.
Moitra said in an interview that she had been unable to find a room after searching on a few floors, and was told by a mall employee to nurse her 14-week-old baby in the toilet.
“I walked out in a couple of minutes. It was smelly and dirty,” she said. “Will you have your food in a washroom? How can you ask a baby to be fed there?”
Reporting by Roli Srivastava @Rolionaroll; Editing by Jared Ferrie. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org