City hotel criticised for its breastfeeding ‘shame’

Mothers demonstrate outside Olive Restaurant yesterday. A woman claimed a waiter told her not to breast feed her baby in the open. [Beverlyne Musili, Standard]
Demonstrators marched on the streets of Nairobi yesterday to protest at the mistreatment of a woman who was allegedly banned from breastfeeding her baby in a restaurant.

The protesters accused Olive Restaurant, located on Accra Road, of infringing on the rights of children to basic food, saying the action was not only despicable, but inhuman.

“It is shameful that some individuals or restaurants support such blatant violation of a child’s right to feed,” said Mildred Owiso, one of the protesters.

The issue came to the public’s attention last week after a woman identified as Betty Kim took to social media to express her frustration with Olive Restaurant’s action.

In her posts, Betty blasted the restaurant’s employees for their heartless approach to the matter, saying a waiter asked her to either cover her breastfeeding baby or do it in the washroom.

“I’m very disappointed by Olive Restaurant for humiliating me when breastfeeding my baby. Those waiters should be aware not all babies are covered while being fed. The approach was pathetic, it was raining outside and I can never breastfeed my baby in the toilet,” wrote Betty.

The restaurant’s management yesterday apologised and asked the complainant to come forward and assist in identifying the waiter who threw her out for action to be taken against the worker.

“We sincerely apologise and we assure you that the Olive management is taking necessary measures to address the matter. Please get in touch with us if possible to assist us with the investigations. In order to improve our services to all mothers,” said the restaurant manager, Moses Wambua.

Yesterday, the protesters matched to Parliament, where they petitioned MPs to formulate and enforce laws to protect lactating mothers.

“The law allows mothers to breastfeed anywhere we want, however and whenever we want. We therefore ask both the national and the county governments to ensure the laws are enforced. We also appeal to the President to assent to the Breastfeeding Mothers Bill, 2017,” said Ms Owiso.

MPs Martha Wangare and Isaac Mwaura, who came out to receive the bill, supported the women, saying there was a need to implement the existing laws. “The problem is not in formulation of laws; we need to ensure existing laws they are enforced,” said Ms Wangare.

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