In light of the recent PCC decisions concerning breastfeeding issues in the press, we have felt it necessary to request that special consideration be given to breastfeeding coverage. Such consideration is afforded to other groups at risk of discrimination and although breastfeeding is entirely natural and normal, we feel that inaccurate and unbalanced reportage of the topic is not only commonplace, but also constitutes a health risk to mothers and their babies.
The wording of the petition is as follows, and you can sign it here.
To: OFCOM/ PCC
We would like to petition the Press Complaints Commission to implement additional 'special guidelines' to cover all areas of reportage concerning breastfeeding.
It has become apparent that the current complaints procedure does not wield sufficient power in this area.
Whilst breastfeeding is NORMAL and NATURAL, breastfeeding mothers still experience a degree of marginalisation within society. Statements casting doubt on the many benefits of breastfeeding (which have been unquestionably confirmed through research) are frequently made in all areas of the media. Inaccurate, misleading and harmful statements about the effects of breastfeeding on a woman’s body, her social life, or her working rights (and more) are also frequently made.
All such statements give rise to a health risk, as in contrast to babies who are breastfed and their mothers, formula fed babies and their mothers run an increased risk of many medical conditions. We feel any discussion of breastfeeding should also include accurate information about the risks of not breastfeeding so that mothers can make fully informed decisions.
We believe the media has an obligation in this area which is not being fulfilled and are contacting you under your commitment to community dialogue as a concerned group.
The PCC code includes rules concerning the protection of 'individuals at risk of racial, religious, sexual or other forms of discrimination.'
Many mothers are extremely vulnerable during pregnancy and in the weeks following birth. Being exposed to misinformation, unbalanced reportage and speculation during this time can result in a woman making 'life-changing' decisions which can affect her health, and the health & well-being of her child.
The amendments to the pregnancy and maternity provision contained within the Equality Act 2010 signify a recognition by the government that discrimination against breastfeeding mothers DOES exist within society, and seeks to provide additional protection for them. The government also acknowledges that breastfeeding 'is important to the health of both mother and child.'
The OFCOM broadcasting code section 2 covers ‘Harm and Offence’ and seeks to protect public health. It also requires that ‘Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence’. We feel that because factual information regarding the risks of not breastfeeding is frequently omitted from media reportage, it results in breastfeeding advocates being criticised for publicly stating proven facts about such risks. This creates further discrimination.
Although breastfeeding is normal, natural and is accepted in many areas of the country as such, a strong current of disapproval still exists within society. Such disapproval has caused other 'minority groups' to be afforded special protection within the PCC and OFCOM codes, and we feel it's important at this point in time that we ask for the same protection in line with current UK legislation.
http://www.llli.org/NB/NBSepOct05p208a.html http://www.promom.org/bf_info/why_bf.htm http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2004/may/14/health.medicineandhealth2 http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ich/ich-news/Article4 (obesity)
In order for this petition to carry any weight at all, it's vital that we get as many signatories as possible.
Please share it as widely as you can.