A city mall in Kolkata embarrassed and humiliated a woman at the mall premises on Sunday evening by denying her a suitable place to breastfeed her hungry and wailing seven-month-old child.
She was told she would have to breastfeed in the washroom and cannot do it anywhere else.
The woman, Abhilasa Paul, went home and mentioned it in a Facebook rating of the mall in question (The South City Mall). The incident led to Paul getting support from a large number of people.
A support group—Breastfeeding Support of Indian Mothers—is now planning to hold a peaceful ‘nurse-in’ outside the mall to raise awareness on breastfeeding. Paul recalled her horror of Sunday evening.
She was accompanied by her sister-in-law and seven-month-old daughter to the mall on Sunday, when her child started crying, Abhilasa felt she needed to be fed. But due to lack of adequate seats at the mall, she could not find a place to sit and feed her crying child.
She then requested the security personnel if there was a space for breastfeeding. “Every time I was told I would have feed the child inside the toilet. There was no other place inside, I was told,” she said.
She looked for a space at the first floor of the mall, not finding any she then went to the second floor, and finally she reached the floor where repairs are currently going on. She then asked the workers there to allow her inside because her child was hungry and was also wailing. But she was denied entry. Soon she and her sister-in-law thought it would be best to look for a trial room in one of the stores. Most of the trial room were full with Sunday shoppers, and they had to run around for quite a bit. Finally a shop with an empty trial room, let her into feeding the baby, and she changed the child’s diaper.
When she posted on the “ratings” section of the mall’s Facebook page, the initial response from the mall authorities was this insensitive remark, “Funny you found this to be an issue because breastfeeding is not allowed on the floor for a number of reasons”.
The note from the Mall authorities also read, “In-case of any emergency we can make arrangements to help someone, but certainly (sic) this big place that we have is meant for shopping so with all due respect madam please make sure you do your home chores at your home and not in the mall or at least plan it before hand. 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 you wish to? We cannot compromise the privacy of other people in public places can we?”
Later her post went viral along with mall’s feedback and netizens vented their anger on the mall. However, after realising that the issue is going to get critical and also go against their stand; the mall appealed for unconditional apology to the woman and apologised.