Row over breastfeeding in public

A couple were horrified when, on getting paperwork at the police station to vote at the presidential elections, they were rudely refused a place to breastfeed their hungry child.

Published Last updated

After being told by a policeman ‘people didn’t want to see breastfeeding’, a couple has now set up a petition on to defend their right to breastfeed in public. They have also received support from former-minister Cécile Duflot and the council.

On April 10, a young Parisian family decided to stop by the police station to get a proxy to vote in the presidential elections. There was a queue leading out of the building which they joined.

The father, Nicolas, 30, explained his 2-month-old son was strapped to him in a baby sling when he started to show signs of being hungry. At which point the married couple asked a policeman if they could enter the building to sit and feed their child. At first they were told there wasn’t room.

Then one of the superiors came out to say it wasn’t possible to breastfeed in the building, and that he didn’t want to see it.

‘We were told it wasn’t the place for [breastfeeding], that we should not impose that on others, and that we were bad parents’, recalls Nicolas.

When the couple said they had a blanket to cover up with while breastfeeding, they were still told no.

The family went home but later the wife decided to go back to get the name of the policeman who spoke to them in order to write a complaint. That’s when things got heated.

Speaking to a third policeman, she was told ‘contemptuously’, her and her husband were bad parents for bringing their child to the police station and that the couple should take it in turns to collect a proxy.

Legally there’s nothing which stops a couple from breastfeeding their child in a public place.

The couple’s petition has reached over 9,000 signatures and former-minister Cécile Duflot tweeted a link to it, encouraging people to sign and saying the right to breastfeed in public should be respected.

The couple also obtained the support of the council of Paris’ 2nd arrondissement. Town councillor, Jacques Boutault said they’d asked the police station in question to explain what had happened, adding: ‘it is inadmissible to prevent access to a building to a mother who wishes to breastfeed. It is a normal and natural thing.’

The police responded by saying it was exceptional circumstances that day and they ‘regret not being able to comply with the family’s reasonable request.’

‘In light of the amount of people at the police station that day getting voting paperwork as well as there not being the facilities, the policeman in charge told this family it was not possible to agree to their request.’