A photo that went viral of a woman nursing her baby on a crowded Beijing subway has ignited a fiery debate over public breastfeeding in China. A social media user posted the original photo to Weibo (China’s Twitter equivalent) with the caption “Let me remind you — this is a Beijing subway not a bus running in your village” — which lead to some people condemning the mother for exposing her “sexual organs,” while others quickly came to the defense of the mother. While the original post has since been removed, this has not stopped the uproar. In a Weibo post liked by thousands, one man commented: “If I saw a pretty woman’s breasts exposed I’d stare, because I’m a man.”
Breastfeeding is somewhat of a contentious issue in China, where there are no laws allowing women to breastfeed in public spaces, and breastfeeding rates are way below the global average due to a mix of commercial, cultural and economic factors. While the World Health Organization recommends women breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, only 16 percent of urban Chinese mothers and about 30 percent of rural mothers do so, compared to a global average of 40 percent.
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