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Paarl shop bans breastfeeding

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"No eating, drinking, smoking and breastfeeding in the shop please" - window sign

Photo of the sign banning breastfeeding
The sign that appeared on the window of Pick A Shoe’s store. Photo: Facebook
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On Thursday, Pick A Shoe owner Marietjie Kruger spoke to GroundUp saying the sign was not intended to shame breastfeeding mothers or infringe on their rights. She said it was put up because the store’s seating space was very limited and it posed a problem of comfort to both mother and child.

“I really want to apologise to everybody for this sign and I will remove it. What happened in the past was that there were people trying to sit to fit on shoes and there were mothers using the space to feed their babies and I saw that it wasn’t a very comfortable space for [either].”

Kruger said in future, her store would accommodate breastfeeding women, but that the public needed to understand that the store is very small.

“I am a woman. I also breastfeed my babies. It’s definitely not that I am against [the practice]. It’s only that I felt the space was too small for breastfeeding mothers and other customers.”

She said she wasn’t angry by the influx of negative store reviews on the shop’s Facebook page, adding that she “learned something out of it” and would never ban breastfeeding in her store again.

On Monday, Danwine Gernade Liebenberg‎ posted a picture to Pick A Shoe’s Facebook page, asking why the sign was put up. Her question was not met with a response from the company at the time.

Within hours, several other people shared the image, lambasting it for assigning breastfeeding to the ills of smoking and drinking.

One user, Tobie Muller, wrote: “A sign that shows a great deal of ignorance and a huge lack of consideration and compassion. Putting breastfeeding on a sign with smoking is unthinkable!”

Her comment was followed by Bonamy Parkin’s who wrote: ‘Your policy is insensitive to the basic human rights of babies to be breastfed and disrespectful to women. Furthermore it does not reflect the views and recommendations of The Department of Health, World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics’

This incident is the latest in a movement to normalise breastfeeding around the world, under the hashtag #NormaliseBreastfeeding

Sonke Gender Justice spokesperson Andre Lewaks said breastfeeding is a human right and that women should be allowed to exercise this right in any public space.

“Not allowing women to breastfeed in public spaces is gender discrimination and women are therefore being treated unfavourably.”

By Thursday, the store’s Facebook page had over 122 reviews, with an average rating of 1.1 stars out of 5.

Kruger said she would post a public apology and explanation on her Facebook page with urgency.

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TOPICS:  Breastfeeding Gender Health Human Rights

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