As World Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 1- 7) is being celebrated globally, a few Indian cities are still opposed to the idea of breastfeeding babies in public.
In Chennai, a group called Breastfeeding Support for Indian Moms (BSIM) faced the wrath at the hands of authorities after they sought the permission for breastfeeding publicly in shopping malls and maternity hospitals. The authorities not only rejected their plea but also allegedly accused them of "skin show" if the event takes place.
Meanwhile, mall and hospital authorities too have refused to give the permission to the group, which has now decided to breastfeed babies on a beach, the Times of India reported.
Nearly 25 mothers, who are part of BSIM, would "breastfeed on demand" as well as stage a walk on Aug. 7 at Elliot's Beach in Besant Nagar, Chennai, aimed to "celebrate, promote and normalise breastfeeding."
The event would also be a part of the Global Big Latch On movement during which the breastfeeding mothers worldwide gather to feed their children as well as offer support to other mums from Aug. 1to Aug. 7.
"We expected Chennai, being a cosmopolitan city, to be open to such an event. But malls and more ironically even some of the maternity and child hospitals we approached backed out because they felt it would become a 'skin show'," Wahida Satish Kumar, who is among the organisers as well as participants of the decade-old Global Big Latch On movement, told the TOI.
Kumar added that despite the the mothers alleging that the breastfeeding event is not some kind of a skin show, the authorities refused to allow them to host such an event.
"We tried explaining that the idea of breastfeeding on demand, which at times is in public, is to demonstrate how it is a completely normal act and not a skin show," Wahida said.
She also said that the group basically educates the mothers on how to breastfeed their babies without skin showing or even while wearing special dresses.
BSIM group events such as walks, dancing and breastfeeding sessions have also been disallowed in Pune. However, Kumar said that a small city like Coimbatore has opened up to the idea.
"In Coimbatore there will be walks, breastfeeding sessions and street plays in malls, hospitals and other venues," she added.
BSIM group said that although Chennai police has still not given them the permission for the beach event, they have still decided to go ahead with it.