Mothers have fervently expressed their frustrations with those who shame them for breastfeeding in public. Although they have been reassured by medical experts for decades that nurturing a baby through their breasts is best, it has not stopped the backlash they receive while publicly doing so. Mothers have documented and recounted their experiences of snide comments and sneers from bystanders who disapprove of them nursing their babies in public. They have even been subjected to harassment from those bold enough to express their disdain. Even law enforcement has partook in the shaming, despite the fact that the act is completely legal in every state. Opposing spectators and officers have referred to the act as indecent exposure, while mothers rebuttal it's a natural process.
A Georgia mother by the name of Savannah Shukla experienced the repercussions of breastfeeding backlash and the hostile attitudes it creates firsthand. According to a recent article, Shukla was grocery shopping on a Sunday night when her 1-month old son Kumar began to coo out of hunger. Instinctively, she began to nurse the infant as she walked to obtain groceries. She says her son was wrapped in a sling over her shoulder as she fed him. An officer approached her shortly after near the checkout lane advising her to “cover up” because the customers in the vicinity might “find it offensive.” She told the deputy that she was permitted by law to breastfeed anywhere her and her baby were authorized to be, and out of frustration the deputy threatened her with an indecent exposure charge.
“If I were to try and cover myself up, even if it's just a second, he said that would be considered indecent exposure and that he really didn't want me to have to be arrested,” Shukla said.
After her post about the incident went viral on social media sites, the county sheriff, John Darr, affirmed that her stance was correct. “Our office does not condone these actions and will ensure all officers know and understand the law,” he said. He extended an apology to the woman on behalf of the officer, saying that “these are not the opinions or practices of the office as a whole.”
Shukla recently filed a civil complaint on Monday in hopes of discouraging objectors from harassing new mothers, while simultaneously preventing other mothers from having to endure the same treatment. She says that the experience was “horrifying.”
Washington law explicitly states that the act of breastfeeding or “expressing breast milk” is not indecent exposure. So, any harassment endured by mothers should not be tolerated.
Indecent exposure charges carry serious penalties . If you have been accused of this crime in the state of Washington, you should consult with a skilled defense attorney that is devoted to protecting your constitutional rights. Contact the Law Office of Steve Karimi today for a consultation.