Costa Rica News – At least 50 mothers took part in breastfeeding their infants at Lincoln Plaza Saturday. The mothers sat down in the mall’s food court and breastfed their infants in a two hour “mamatón” in protest of the mall’s forcing of a woman to sto nursing her child a week earlier.
The prohibition had set off a furor on social media websites and even prompted a response by presidenta Laura Chinchilla.
The mall’s management quickly apologized for the incident and announced that breastfeeding would be allowed anywhere in the mall and not restricted only to the special assigned area.
The mamatón, despite the retraction by the mall, was in support of Patricia Barrantes, who had decided to leave the mall rather than comply with the mall security guard’s request to move nurse her infant in the lactation room.
Some of the mothers who partcicpated on Saturday travelled from other parts of the country to meet up with lactating mothers in San José.
Costa Rica and other Latin American countrie try to encourage breastfeeding with laws that include mandatory time off during the work day for new mothers to feed their babies or pump breast milk. But women’s and children’s advocates say rates of breastfeeding remain far too low.
The Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres (INAMU) – Costa Rica’s National Women’s Institute sent the mall a formal letter warning that there was no legal justification for barring breastfeeding in public areas. The INAMU president, Maureen Clarke, was very vocal on the issue.
Costa Rica’s president, Laura Chinchilla, admonished Lincoln Plaza’s managers, saying interfering with breastfeeding in public was unjust and stressing that the provision of lactation rooms is only “so that women have an alternative location” to breastfeed if they wish.