A county court judge in Melbourne, Australia, created controversy by ordering a breastfeeding mother and her child to step out of the courtroom. The woman claimed that she felt “humiliated and shamed.”
The woman was feeding her child inside the courtroom on Thursday during a trial in the Victorian Country Court when the judge directly addressed her and asked her to leave the court.
The incident happened when County Court Judge Mark Gamble was going to bring the jury into the courtroom to hear the closing argument.
Judge Removes Breastfeeding Mother
In his defence, Judge Gamble said, “I only told the mother that she is not permitted to breastfeed in the courtroom as it would be a distraction to the jury.” He added that the incident had gained media attention, which is why he chose to clarify his remarks and why he made them.
The judge later told the jury to forget the matter and focused on the trial, according to Australia’s The Age newspaper.
The woman told the newspaper that she felt “humiliated and shamed,” as if she had done something wrong. She also claimed that she had inquired with the security guard before entering the courtroom if it was okay to bring the baby along.
The woman, who didn’t want her name disclosed, expressed great disappointment that the judge had considered breastfeeding a distraction. The mother said she was breastfeeding when the judge asked her to leave the court and added the incident made her feel “singled out and shamed”. She added that she hopes that no other women will be spoken to like this ever again.
At a press conference on Friday, Australia’s Minister for Early Childhood Education, Ingrid Stitt, expressed her disappointment with the incident.
This, however, is not the first incident of a mother being shamed for breastfeeding in public. Despite the fact that we are in 2023, society continues to have a huge taboo associated with mothers breastfeeding their babies in public.
Suggested Reading: Why Public Breastfeeding Makes People So Uncomfortable