Woman ejected from cafe for breastfeeding fights back
A Berlin woman has started a campaign for a law guaranteeing women's right to breastfeed in public after being thrown out of a cafe.
"Dear [Families] Minister Manuela Schwesig, we demand a law to protect nursing in public!" the petition reads.
"I would never have thought that nursing in public is taboo in Germany," Johanna Spanke wrote on petition platform WeAct.
But she goes on to explain that she was thrown out of a cafe for nursing her three-month-old son after the owner told her breastfeeding was banned.
"Unfortunately I realized that there is no legal protection in Germany to protect women from being expelled or shamed if they want to nurse in cafes, restaurants, ice-cream parlours or museums," Spanke wrote.
Although nursing is allowed, owners are allowed to set their own rules for their premises – which Spanke says allows them to discriminate against mothers.
"It is part of a society that's friendly to families and children that nursing in public shouldn't be taboo," she declared.
"Nursing women have the right to take part in public life."
"It's not forbidden to nurse in public in Germany, but also not explicitly allowed," German Midwives' Federation spokesman Robert Manu confirmed to local paper BZ.
"In public spaces, house rules apply. The owner can use that to expel a mother from the building if nursing bothers him."
That puts Germany behind other countries, such as the UK – where a law has protected nursing mothers since 2010.
Several American states also protect breastfeeding in law.
"We shouldn't be surprised if fewer and fewer German women want to have babies" given the current situation, Spanke wrote.
Breastfeeding is becoming an increasingly fraught issue in the Federal Republic, with stories of discrimination against nursing mothers often spreading fast via social media.
“Nursing mothers are often discriminated against,” campaigner Stephanie Karch told The Local last year. “A woman just told me that she was breastfeeding at a public park and someone called the police on her.”
Karch launched the "Mama Stillt" (mother is nursing) project to provide a positive view of breastfeeding.
“I honestly don’t know why people have such a problem with this,” she said at the time. “There has been a lot of positivity in the comments on the pictures, but there are also people who don’t like it.”
In a post to her Facebook page on Wednesday, Karch said "I still shake my head over why a nursing mother is sent away, sad... the petition is great!"