Hong Kong needs to do more to encourage breastfeeding mothers and protect their rights, a concern group said on Wednesday, calling on authorities to beef up relevant laws.
Natural Parenting Network (NPN) said in a statement that mothers’ breastfeeding rights are under threat due the absence of laws requiring the provision of dedicated facilities for nursing women.
The recent incident involving singer and actress Ella Koon, who was scolded by a woman for trying to breastfeed her baby in a hotel changing room, is just an example of the problems faced by nursing mothers, it said.
With even a celebrity getting upbraided for breastfeeding her child, it shows that breastfeeding rights are not being recognized in Hong Kong.
NPN called on members of the public to accept and support breastfeeding, and propose legislation for the right of breastfeeding in public, as well as provision of special rooms for nursing mothers.
The NPN, which has advocated breastfeeding for infants up to the age of two, noted that Taiwan had in 2010 passed a law that requires public facilities that are of certain size to have dedicated breastfeeding rooms for mothers, Ming Pao Daily News reported.
Also, any person found disturbing breastfeeding mothers would be handed a fine of NT$6,000 (about HK$1,400).
Coming back to the incident in Hong Kong involving Ella Koon, the singer has said that she was insulted by a middle-aged woman for breastfeeding in a female changing room in a hotel.
She said she went to a changing room as she couldn’t find a nursing room.
According to news website TOPick, only the Mandarin Oriental, out of ten local five-star hotels surveyed, has a special room in its building where mothers can feed their babies or change diapers.
It is said that staff at JW Marriott Hotel in Admiralty would ask guests to go to the breastfeeding room of Pacific Place or Lane Crawford department store nearby, pointing out that it is only a two-minute walk.
Conrad Hong Kong doesn’t have a dedicated breastfeeding room, but the employees there were reported to have been more helpful.
At the Peninsula Hong Kong, staff said they could arrange a spare room at their spa and gymnasium on the 7th floor for breastfeeding mothers, or a room near a restaurant.
In another hotel, Regal Kowloon, staff were found saying that they can offer the bride’s room at the Chinese banquet hall for breastfeeding mothers.
However, the facility will be offered only if there were no banquets taking place at that time.
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