Angry mothers have delivered an open letter to Facebook after the social networking giant snubbed a protest about its breastfeeding policy yesterday.
A group of about 80 women gathered outside the offices in King Street, Sydney, to demonstrate after hundreds of breastfeeding photos were deemed obscene and taken down from the site.
But with no official response from the tech giant the group is now considering taking their fight to the Australian Human Rights Commission to determine whether the policy is a violation of discrimination laws.
Lucy Allen, 21, told news.com.au that rather than sending a senior company representative to the “Boob-Out” protest Facebook just sent a security guard.
“It was frustrating because we had a lot of people turn up to talk to them and it would have been nice to be able to deliver the message face to face,” Ms Allen said.
You have removed four photos of me breastfeeding. You made me tick a box and acknowledge that they were obscene.
You have not removed much pornography though. Pages called Big T..s, Big Knockers, How Big are your T..s?, Small, Big, or Saggy T..s – a quiz, are still going along nicely but pages where mothers seek support from one another are deemed obscene?
Wake and smell the breast milk!”
A quick search of Facebook easily found examples of the sort of nudity the group cites in their open letter.
Ms Allen was one of at least 345 women who were temporarily banned from the site for posting pictures of themselves breastfeeding in contravention of Facebook’s stated policy.
These state that users cannot post content that is hateful, pornographic, contains nudity or incites violence.
It also reserves the right to remove any content that infringes or violates another’s rights or the law.
Stay-at-home mum Sara Anderson, 25, who was also at the protest said social networks like Facebook could be a lifeline for mothers and it was important for women not to feel ashamed when nursing their children.
“I send my friends photos of my son on Facebook and they’re constantly commenting saying ‘wow what an awesome job you’re doing ‘ and ‘he’s looking so wonderful and he’s growing so well and it’s all because of what you’ve done’,” Ms Anderson said.
“It makes me as a mother feel great and those days where you’re not feeling so great or you can’t leave the house – you remember the good days. It’s a way for me to say ‘Hey look what I can do, look how awesome my body is.”
Ms Anderson said it was important to celebrate the female body’s natural function and move away from seeing breastfeeding as “taboo” or “sexual”.
Adjunct fellow in the school of nursing and midwifery at the University of Western Sydney Professor Karleen Gribble has also written to Facebook as a healthcare professional and is encouraging others in the industry to do the same.
Prof Gribble told news.com.au that it was essential for women to see breastfeeding before they have their first child.
“The worst time to learn about breastfeeding is when you are having your first baby,” she said.
“For these women who breastfeed in public or put photographs of themselves on Facebook they’re actually performing a community service and Facebook is failing people by removing this service.”
The World Health Organisation recommends mothers breastfeed for a minimum of two years.