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Westfield Malls - Please Support Breastfeeding Babies!
Petition Background (Preamble):
Fox 8 Morning News (Cleveland) aired a story on July 21, 2006 in which a local nursing mother (who wishes to remain anonymous) was refused permission to nurse her baby before paying for her purchases at the Aeropostale store in Great Northern Mall (which is owned by Westfield).
The mall representative who spoke to the reporter indicated that this kind of situation is why they put in the Family Room.
Westfield Corp. owns four area malls in addition to the malls they own in twelve other states and three other countries (the UK, Australia and New Zealand).
Some of those areas have much stronger protections for families who breastfeed in public than Ohio does, especially New York State (where Westfield owns two malls) - there the right to breastfeed is written into the Civil Rights section of the state laws, with specific penalties if violated.
However, we are especially concerned with the Westfield representative's attitude, which seemed to support the store manager's actions - in violation of Ohio's law that mothers are permitted to breastfeed their child wherever the mother is legally permitted to be.
Babies should be welcome to eat wherever they are hungry, they don't understand some people are only comfortable if they eat from certain containers and not others. Babies have no ability to understand that they have to wait while Mommy runs to the other side of the mall to feed them when another baby is able to be fed immediately because our society currently accepts public bottle-feeding but not breastfeeding.
A corporation of this size needs to have a clear, unambiguous stance on breastfeeding on their property, and with the government pushing to raise breastfeeding rates, shunting families to one obscure area of the property for that activity is NOT going to cut it. Family Rooms are wonderful for a variety of uses - to help calm down overstimulated kids, taking a rest from the hustle and bustle of a busy mall with a tiny baby (breast- or bottle-fed), and yes, as a place for mothers who AREN'T comfortable breastfeeding in front of others to have some privacy.
For those mothers who ARE comfortable feeding their children wherever they happen to be when the child gets hungry, they should be made to feel as welcome as families with bottles in tow.
We, the undersigned, expect that Westfield Corporation will educate themselves on the needs specific to the growing numbers of families who chose the government-endorsed, healthy option of breastfeeding their children and demonstrate this throughout their properties.
Some ways to do this are:
1. Place comfortable seating (preferably with arm support) at regular intervals in the main hallways;
2. Post signs near this seating stating that the seats must be vacated for the elderly, disabled,and families with small children;
3. Empower the security guards to enforce such a policy.
4. Educate the owners and managers of the shops in the mall regarding these policies and the fact that breastfeeding in public is legally protected in the state of Ohio and mothers should be allowed to nurse in the stores without harrassment, if another customer complains they should be told that the mother is within her rights and the law and the mall's policy is to allow it.
These solutions cost little (in fact, in some malls the most expensive part - the comfortable seating - is already in place) and the cost involved benefits more than just breastfeeding families. We expect nothing less from a place that earns their profits from hard-earned spending money in this difficult economy.
The Westfield Malls - Please Support Breastfeeding Babies! petition to Westfield Malls, Great Northern was written by Ahmie Yeung and is in the category Children's Rights at GoPetition. Contact author here. Petition tags: breastfeeding, westfield, malls, families, comfortable, mothers, breastfeed, mother, seating, babies, support, wherever, public, state, children, government, understand, educate, hungry, others, property, policy, needs, cor