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Mothers in breastfeeding protest at top London hotel

LONDON: A group of mothers staged a group breastfeed outside one of London’s top hotels Saturday after a woman nursing her baby there was told to cover up.

The protest at Claridge’s came after Louise Burns, 35, was asked to cover the head of her three-month-old daughter Isadora with a napkin while breastfeeding during afternoon tea on Monday.

Her case has prompted a debate over the rights and wrongs of breastfeeding in public, with Prime Minister David Cameron supporting women’s rights to do so.

Some 15 women and their babies gathered outside the hotel to speak out on the issue. One carried a banner saying: “That’s what breasts are for, stupid.”

Emily Slough, who was at the protest with her 18-month-old daughter Matilda, said she herself had been called a “tramp” on Facebook for breastfeeding in public.

“Every time something like this happens, many women are put off for life from breastfeeding,” she added.

“We’re here to challenge that stigma and show women it’s normal and natural.”

Equality laws in Britain state that treating a woman unfavourably when she is breastfeeding amounts to sex discrimination.

Cameron’s spokesman said this week that it was “totally unacceptable” for mothers to be made to feel uncomfortable when breastfeeding in public.

That came after the leader of the anti-European Union UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, said it was up to individual venues to decide the rules on breastfeeding and that women could be asked to “perhaps sit in the corner”.

Farage later insisted he had no problem with women breastfeeding “wherever they want”.

Claridge’s is a five-star hotel in London’s prestigious Mayfair district which frequently hosts international royalty and celebrities.

While it says that it “embraces” breastfeeding, it asks that women be “discreet towards other guests”. -AFP

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