Tung Wah Group of Hospitals sorry for café ejecting breastfeeding woman

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 October, 2013, 8:02am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 October, 2013, 8:02am

A mother has spoken out after she was prevented from breastfeeding her baby in a restaurant run by an established Hong Kong charity organisation.

Gloria Chow said that, last Saturday, staff at iBakery Cafe in Tamar, which is run by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, stopped her from breastfeeding her four-month-old son and asked her to leave.

Chow said that when she approached the iBakery Cafe entrance, a staff member rushed up to her and asked in an unfriendly tone: "How can I help you?"

When she then tried to sit down in the near-empty cafe, she said she was stopped by another member of staff who asked the same question.

"I asked if I could buy a drink. And she said: 'You know you are not allowed to breastfeed here?' I wasn't sure if my baby needed a feed at all, but I asked her why not anyway."

"It's not nice to be seen [like this]," was her answer, said Chow.

"It's sad to be told off by other women when you are with your baby. Half an hour later, I fed my baby in the heat, sitting on the side of a flower bed by a pier."

A spokeswoman for the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals said it allowed breastfeeding at the iBakery Cafe. But as a social enterprise, half of the iBakery staff were people with disabilities, and it was two employees with intellectual disabilities who had spoken to her. Chow said she was unaware that the staff involved had any intellectual disabilities.

"We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to the mother. We will evaluate our training and instruction to our staff, especially those with disabilities," the Tung Wah spokeswoman said.

However, La Leche League Hong Kong - a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing support, encouragement and information to women who want to breastfeed - said its members had reported similar incidents recently at Ocean Park, Elements shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui and Sha Tin's New Town Plaza.

But La Leche League spokeswoman Caroline Carson believed that many incidents were the result of a communication breakdown between the businesses and their staff. "Problems arise when staff members just don't know that breastfeeding is allowed," Carson said.