A stranger photographed me breastfeeding my baby. Let's make this disturbing act illegal.

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A stranger photographed me breastfeeding my baby. Let's make this disturbing act illegal.

This petition made change with 29,142 supporters!
Julia Cooper started this petition to UK Government and

A stranger photographed me breastfeeding my baby. Let's make this disturbing, intrusive act illegal.

In April this year I met with some friends for a walk in Greater Manchester. Before heading home, a couple of us went and sat on a public bench to feed our babies. As I was breastfeeding, I noticed a man on another bench staring. I stared back to let him know I’d clocked him, and that I wasn’t okay with his gaze. Undeterred, he attached a telephoto lens to his camera and began photographing us. I couldn’t believe it. I quickly turned round so my back was facing him and finished feeding my baby. But I couldn’t relax, all I could feel were his eyes and camera lens on me. 

After the feed, I confronted him, asking if he’d photographed us. He confirmed he had, and refused to delete the photos. He calmly told me it was his right to photograph me as I breastfed because we were in public.

I approached the park warden, who also asked the man to delete the photos. Again, he refused. Later that day I spoke to Greater Manchester police, and after coming off the phone to check the man had indeed acted with the law as it didn’t sound right, they confirmed that he had. So let's change it.

Breastfeeding mothers need more protection under the law from voyeurs.

It is currently legal in England to photograph other people - including other people’s children - in public. Unless the images which have been taken are indecent, no one has the right to:

  • ask a photographer to stop
  • ask for a copy of the photos
  • force a photographer to delete the photographs

It goes without saying that breastfeeding is not an indecent act. Those who breastfeed are protected by The Equality Act 2010, but only against discrimination. So how can mothers feel safe to feed their babies in public, knowing that it is currently legal for a stranger to photograph or film them as they please?

This was only the second time I have ever breastfed my baby in public (given that she was born during the pandemic) and I cannot believe someone would feel so entitled to photograph my body during an intimate, but otherwise completely natural act.

Jeff Smith MP has since raised this issue in Parliament, but he did not receive a satisfactory reply from the Leader of the House.

Now, Jeff Smith MP along with Stella Creasy MP are proposing an amendment to the Police Crime and Sentencing Bill 2021 that would make it a crime to take images of breastfeeding without consent. This will go through the House of Commons by end of June 2021.

How you can help

We now need to show the Government that this issue is important, and has the public backing to turn into legislation. I refuse to concede to the man that went home with photos of me and my baby, and I hope you will join me in my campaign to update the law and protect breastfeeding women.

Whether we choose to breastfeed in public, or breastfeed in private, we should have the right to #breastfeedinpeace.

Please sign this petition, and let your MP know you want them to back the amendment.

Template email to your MP:

Subject: Breastfeeding in public and photographing without consent 

Dear MP’s NAME,

I am writing to you as one of your constituents about a matter recently raised in Parliament. 

Jeff Smith MP asked the Leader of the House of Commons how it was legal that a man was legally able to photograph a mother as she breastfed her baby in a park in Manchester. He did not receive a satisfactory reply, and has since put down an amendment to the Police Crime and Sentencing Bill 2021 that would make it an offence to take images of breastfeeding without consent.

I am shocked that such voyeurism is legal. There seems to be a glaring gap in protections, which crosses The Equality Act 2010, which protects breastfeeding women from discrimination, The Harassment Act 1997 which only protects victims of persistent photographing, and the Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019 which currently does not protect breastfeeders who have had images recorded without their consent.

This “grey area” on photographing breastfeeding women and their babies is in urgent need of address. For a woman to be photographed by a stranger during an intimate but completely natural act is distressing and violating. This feels no different to upskirting, which was only made illegal in 2019.

I am asking you to please support the amendment to the Police Crime and Sentencing Bill, that would make it a crime to take images of breastfeeding without consent. Breastfeeding mothers need more protection under the law from voyeurs.

Kind regards,

YOUR FULL NAME

YOUR FULL ADDRESS
YOUR PHONE NUMBER (where possible)

Your details above are required by a parliamentary convention that MPs can only deal with matters raised by their own constituents. You can find your MPs contact information here: https://members.parliament.uk/

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