‘Victory for breastfeeding mothers’
New law to see women stop being ‘pestered’ for feeding their baby in public
It will soon be a crime in England and Wales to take a picture of a mother breastfeeding without her consent.
Part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill going through Parliament, the new law has been welcomed by breastfeeding campaigners who say it is “a victory for breastfeeding mothers”.
Speaking about the move, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said the aim of the new law was to stop mothers being “pestered” for “harassment or self-gratification purposes”.
The new law has come about following a campaign by Julia Cooper of Manchester who raised the issue following being photographed last spring breastfeeding her baby in a local park.
She told the BBC: “I sat down to breastfeed my daughter and I noticed a man on another bench staring at us.
"I stared back to let him know that I had clocked his gaze, but undeterred he got out his digital camera, attached a zoom lens and started photographing us."
Feeling “violated” by the experience she contacted Greater Manchester Police to report the incident but was told they couldn’t do anything about it as no crime had actually been committed.
She then took the issue to her local Labour MP Jeff Smith whose colleague Stella Creasy also had personal experience of being photographed whilst breastfeeding.
Together Creasy and Cooper asked for a change in the law taking the issue to the Commons.
The were initially told by Home Office minister Victoria Atkins that the government was waiting for a review from the Law Commission on how best to address the issue but since then government minister Lord Wolfson has put forward his amendment to the bill in the House of Lords.
The amendment will see “recording images of, or otherwise observing, breastfeeding without consent or a reasonable belief as to consent" and to be found guilty, the perpetrator "must be acting for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification or of humiliating, alarming or distressing the victim" to be classed as an offence.
Ms Cooper said of the new law: “It is a victory for breastfeeding mothers and it will provide the reassurance that we can breastfeed in public without strangers freely photographing and filming us as they wish.
"The law is on their side, the law is going to protect them and I am so pleased."