Costa Rican Women Protest a Woman Being Denied Her Right to Breastfeed in Public by Breastfeeding in Public
By: Doug Barry
Not only does Costa Rica boast excellent surf, adorable rainforest creatures, and a community of tax-evading expatriates who spend their days playing golf and having Cialis-fuelled mega orgies, the tiny Central American republic also has a lady president who doesn't take any shit from retail plazas when they try to prevent women from breastfeeding in public.
After a woman named Patricia Barrantes was told to stop nursing her daughter at a San Jose mall called Lincoln Plaza, Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla on Tuesday admonished the mall's managers, making it quite clear that "interfering with breastfeeding in public was unjust." Though management at Lincoln Plaza cowered under the presidential scolding, relaxing their stance against public breastfeeding later that day, public outrage mounted, culminating Saturday in a breastfeeding sit-in protest at Lincoln Plaza that lasted two hours and featured enough bare, lactating breasts to fill a pearl-clutcher's nightmare film library for a year. More than 50 women reportedly participated in the "mamaton" in an effort to show solidarity with Barrantes and let would-be shamers know that breastfeeding is nothing to be squeamish about (one mom traveled a hundred miles to San Jose to participate in the protest).
Anger over how Barrantes was treated swept across social media in Costa Rica, where the government, in an effort to wean its citizens off of formula, has encouraged more women to breastfeed with laws that call for mandatory time off work during the day so that new mothers can pump breast milk. The Costa Rican National Women's Institute also sent a strongly-worded letter to Lincoln Plaza management, informing them that there was no legal justification for preventing public breastfeeding, no matter how scandalizing such a spectacle is for people unfamiliar with the great and wondrous utility of the female body.