A group of mothers held a group session on breastfeeding in São Paulo, in the Brazilian Southeast, as a protest. The “Mamaço” (Big Breastfeeding Event), as the event was called, happened in events center of Itaú Cultural, on Avenida Paulista, a public space sponsored by Itaú, one of Brazil’s largest financial institutions.
The women were protesting a March incident, when a mother was prevented from breastfeeding her baby during an art exhibition in the center. The collective breastfeeding lasted more than two hours. About 50 mothers and their babies participated.
Anthropologist Marina Barão, 29, says he was visiting the place with her two children, two-year old Antonio and two-month baby Francisco.
“The youngest one woke up and wanted to be nursed. While I was breastfeeding him, a monitor warned that it was forbidden to breastfeed there. I couldn’t believe it. Embarrassed, the worker took me to the firefighters’s ward so that I could breastfeed.”
According to Marina, the employee told that she and her colleagues had been instructed not to allow mothers to breastfeed in exposition room.
“She told me she was following orders of her superiors. Caught off guard, I said this was against the rights of the child, but she asked me to follow her or she would have to call a security guard.”
Itaú Cultural has already conceded that there were “orientation errors.” Eduardo Saron, the center’s director, says the information given to the monitors is that “people cannot eat in the space of the exhibition.”
“Accordingly, the employee put the rule into practice,” said Saron, adding: “In addition to apologize to the mothers on Facebook, I called our team and we re-discussed the way we should treat the public. We take this as a lesson.
According to the text of the protest posted on Facebook, upon learning about the incident, the Itaú Cultural immediately apologized on behalf of the institution, and took measures form training and informing its team in order that this won’t happen again.” After that, the center decided to officially sponsor the event, which became less of a protest turning into an event for promoting breastfeeding in public places,” continued the statement.
Saron, who accepted responsibility for the way Barão was treated went on to apologize profusely for the incident: “I am the father of a boy of 8 months, Gabriel. I came home and almost got beaten by my wife when she heard what had happened. This opened a debate in my house and served as a lesson for the cultural space as well.”
Paula Linadi, 35, a fashion designer and one of the mothers who attended the Mamaço with her three-month-old son Noah, told reporters: “Breastfeeding is more than just feeding, it is a way to increase the bond between mother and child. It’s not my problem if someone gets bothered.” She says she nursed her first child, Ian, who is now 4, for 12 months, concluding, “I have no regrets.”