Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mum thrown off bus for breastfeeding her baby

Two things strike me from this story, describing the disgraceful incident in which a mother, Amy Wootton, was thrown off the bus, with her six week old baby, in the pouring rain for breastfeeding.

Firstly, why does the vile misogynist of a bus driver still have a job? If he had insulted someone on racial or religious grounds, I expect that would have been defined as gross misconduct and he'd have been sacked on the spot. Intimidating a customer, threatening to call the Police and then turfing her out in the rain is appalling behaviour. A bunch of flowers, a voucher and an apology is not enough unless the company can demonstrate that it will not tolerate this sort of thing.

Secondly, why do we women put up with this sort of nonsense? Now, I really, really don't want to criticise Amy as an individual. She was put in a humiliating position by the driver and I understand why she did as she was asked. Should we not be teaching our girls that they don't have to tolerate this sort of crap?

When Anna was about 4 months old, I was the sole customer in our village tea room and she needed feeding, so I fed her. All anyone could really see was the back of her head. There was much more mammary gland on view in the newspapers which were left out for the customers to read and there would be much more on view on any Mediterranean beach you may care to name. The woman in charge, yes, that's a woman, asked me to stop in case a man came in. I said no, politely, but firmly. Anna wanted to be fed and her needs came first, and in any case, there was nothing on view to take offence at.

As it hapened a group of pensioners came in at this point and I ended up chatting to them. They were perfectly friendly and it didn't seem as if they either noticed or cared what I was doing. When Anna was finished, she charmed them all with smiles and chuckles.

I was livid at the manager woman, though. I waited until the next morning before I wrote a carefully crafted letter of complaint. I think I still have somewhere the reply I received in which they said that they wanted to spare my embarrassment if someone else came in.

It was one of the great achievements of the 2003-2007 Holyrood Parliament that Elaine Smith MSP's Breastfeeding Bill, giving babies the right to be fed anywhere it was legal for them to be. That gives women protection, we need to also find ways to make sure they have the confidence to fight against such appalling treatment.


Clair said...

This makes me want to scream....things are changing but so so slowly and sadly it does still seem to be accepted. I only hope the experience hasn't put her of bf-ing entirely.

Sarah said...

The Bristol Post has now updated this story. It appears that this wretched woman made the story up as proven by a review of the buses onboard CCTV which shows the driver never even spoke to her!
Thank goodness the poor driver hasn't suffered the dreadful repercussions of this terrible allegation.

Unknown said...

Thanks for that, Sarah. In the interests of fairness, I'll do an update later.


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