A group of women marched on a restaurant in the center of Nairobi Tuesday.
The marchers have accused the restaurant of asking a Kenyan woman who was breastfeeding her child to cover up or feed the girl in a restroom. The demonstrators say eateries and other businesses need to support mothers who choose to breastfeed in public spaces.
The women marched from Nairobi's Freedom Corner to parliament, and then to the Olive Restaurant.
It was at this restaurant that 26-year-old Beth Njeri says she was humiliated by one of its workers for breastfeeding her baby.
It was the middle of the day. Njeri went inside the eatery with her 16-month-old daughter, Alyssa, and ordered some food.
Njeri explains what happened.
"My baby…was moving, she was trying to stand, she was … moving all around,” she said. “I took her and started breastfeeding her, so that she can be calm because the order took some time. When I was still feeding her, a lady came and told me to cover up or stop breastfeeding. I stopped breastfeeding,” she said, adding that when she asked for another place to feed her child the waitress turned her head to the women’s room.
Njeri was angry. She wrote up a description of the incident and left it on her Facebook page. The story soon spread, with mostly women coming to her defense and making plans to attend the march.
Njeri told VOA that she was shocked by the public reaction, but was happy that the incident had launched a nationwide debate about breastfeeding.
"Women should breastfeed anywhere, even in public places, because you cannot choose where the baby will want to breastfeed. It is nature," she said.
Kenya's parliament is considering two bills that would require safe and convenient places for mothers who want to breastfeed their children. Both would require employers to offer special areas for breastfeeding mothers in the workplace.
Nairobi County nutrition official Esther Kwamboka marched in support of the mothers.
She said, "Every public space that holds more than 30 people is supposed to provide a breastfeeding space. We expect our organizations, and all our public spaces in this city to be able to provide breastfeeding spaces for our mothers," she added.
The restaurant published an apology to Njeri on its Facebook page and has appealed for calm.
I'm Susan Shand.
Rael Ombuor reported this story for VOANews.com. Susan Shand adapted the report for VOA Learning English. The editor was George Grow.
Words in This Story
humiliate – v. to make (someone) feel very sorry or foolish
convenient – adj. easy
nutrition – n. eating the right kind of food so you can grow and be healthy