No breastfeeding mother should be verbally abused or pepper-sprayed

"Are you stupid? Are you an idiot? Why did you park like this?"
"Are you stupid? Are you an idiot? Why did you park like this?"

At Parent24 we support breastfeeding mothers, we offer advice and we support lobbies that call for greater acceptance of breastfeeding.    

So we are bitterly disappointed when shocking stories like this appear in our news feeds: 

A mother from Vanderbijlpark has reported that she was pepper-sprayed in her car while breastfeeding her four-month-old baby.

Itumeleng Tsoeu told Eyewitness News that she was "verbally abused and pepper-sprayed by a woman who had taken issue with how her car was parked at the Vaal Mall."

The passenger of another car reportedly banged on Itumeleng's window, shouting "Are you stupid? Are you an idiot? Why did you park like this?" 

It seems that the attacker didn't even pause when seeing the breastfeeding baby. Apparently the angry woman went on to threaten Itumeleng, saying "I’ll shoot you and your baboon" before taking pepper-spray from her handbag and spraying it all over the car.

The young mother described how she jumped out of the car, holding her baby, saying she feared for her life, as the assailant and a female driver laughed as they drove away. 

Also read: "I still received disapproving stares” Local mom shares her public breastfeeding experience

Just last week South Africa marked World Breastfeeding Week 2019 (1 – 7 August) with our own First Lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe encouraging mother's to breastfeed their babies. 

"We need to become a breastfeeding-friendly society and nation," she said at an event to celebrate the week. "If South Africa is to reach the 2025 UN target of an exclusive breastfeeding rate of 50 per cent for the first six months of an infant's life, we need to empower and support women who breastfeed in our communities."

Other's are also hard at work to unveil the stigma attached to public breastfeeding. Despite these efforts, the current rate of exclusive breastfeeding in South Africa is 32 per cent. 

IN PICTURES: Unveiling the stigma around breastfeeding this Women's Day 

Earlier this year Parent24 reader and mom, Mmatoka, wrote to tell of of a nasty encounter she had while breastfeeding in the Centurion Mall Wimpy.

"I was breastfeeding my son on the morning of 10 March when a Wimpy employee told me that someone had [asked] that I cover up.

"When I asked why, a woman came from nowhere and started giving me a lecture about how inappropriately I was behaving around her son, who she did not raise to see such [things]. I asked her why she was giving me a lecture, and my husband told her to mind her own business."

Read the full story here: Wimpy responds to breastfeeding shaming incident

But with stories like this, and more, it's no surprise that women are afraid to breastfeed in public, and that our breastfeeding rates are so low.

It's clear we have a long way to go. 

We hope Itumeleng finds justice, and we will continue to work towards a place where mothers find more and more acceptance of breastfeeding in South Africa. 

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Read more:

Wimpy responds to breastfeeding shaming incident

5 local celeb mommies who celebrate public breastfeeding

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