Phnom Penh, March 13: A lady police officer was photographed breastfeeding her child while on duty in Cambodia this week. The picture went viral and her superiors compelled her to issue a public apology for "offending" the dignity of her office and women in general. The cop was also forced to sign an agreement stating she won't repeat the act. This has triggered an outcry on social media with people calling for protection of women's rights in Cambodia. Gilu Joseph’s Breastfeeding Photo-Shoot: What Do Real Mothers Think about Breastfeeding in Public?
The picture of Sithong Sokha breastfeeding her child while on duty has gone viral on social media platforms. Later, it emerged that she was publicly shamed by her seniors for her act and told to apologise, according to a report of news agency Reuters. The treatment of Sokha sparked public outrage and drew divided official response. Does Breastfeeding Really Tire You Out? Here's How Nursing Your Child Could Dip Your Energy Levels and Make You Sleepy!
Picture of Sithong Sokha Breastfeeding:
Sithong Sokha Made to Apologise:
"It is disturbing that the officer was originally encouraged to apologize for offending the dignity of her office and women and made to sign a contract agreeing to discontinue her behaviour," 39 civil society groups said in a statement. "For women's rights in the workplace to be realised, it is paramount that childcare equipment and facilities, and breastfeeding breaks with pay, are made easily available to all working mothers," they added.
Cambodia's Women's Affairs Ministry, initially, remained silent on the incident. It later wrote an open letter in support of the lady officer. However, the response was not welcomed fully because the ministry said breastfeeding in public could be seen as "affecting the values and the dignity of Khmer women." Earlier this week, a senior Interior Ministry official also wrote an open letter, saying she was "extremely dismayed" at the treatment of Sokha.
"She did not express any sexiness in the photograph in order to attract attention like some online vendors," Chou Bun Eng, a secretary of state, said. Following the outcry, according to Reuters, the police said the officer was not reprimanded for breastfeeding in public. The police said the lady officer was scolded because she shared her picture while on duty.