“Mummy wars” is a name I’d never heard before becoming a mother myself, at which point I realised that the differences in parenting styles come with an arsenal of weaponry for mudslinging and name-calling.
It’s amazing, then, to see how mothers across the globe have rallied in support of a breastfeeding mother, Habiba (an assumed name). A 22-year-old Moroccan woman who, according to reports fled an abusive spouse, and went to Spain with her 15-month old daughter, Habiba turned to a shelter for mothers and children for support, but the shelter removed her daughter from her with no warning, giving her no opportunity to say goodbye and without following any legal procedures. They then told her to leave the shelter as it was a home for single mothers and she couldn’t stay there as she no longer had a child.
Initially the shelter, the IMMF, stated that the removal was due to her refusal to force her daughter to wean from breast feeding –something the IMMF forces to make adoptions easier, should they become necessary. The IMMF also stated chaotic feeding patterns, co-sleeping and refusal to feed purees, but rather feeding her from her plate (what we call Baby Led Weaning). As international pressure has mounted with protests all over the US, Canada, Hungary, Spain and (on Tuesday) England, letters written and faxes sent to the IMMF, and the human rights group Fundación Raíces getting behind Habiba and Alma, the IMMF have increasingly changed or “broadened” their story to include violence and aggressive behaviour, with releases such as that in the Guardian yesterday – which aren’t substantiated by the experts and professionals that have been working with the little family.
Mothers around the world have rallied together, sending letters to their local Spanish embassies and consulates, to UN representatives, demonstrating, attending protests and singing lullabies outside official buildings.
Throughout this entire ordeal, mothers in Madrid have gathered outside the institution where Alma was kept each evening to sing her lullabies, and today, 23 days after being taken, Alma and Habiba were reunited.
I think this is an amazing story. Over 9,600 mothers have joined the English Facebook page in three weeks, and support has been tremendous with over 20,000 signing various petitions in different languages.
While all those who have watched this situation unfold from the start are still hoping to see changes in the IMMF’s policies, and stricter controls over what they can do to vulnerable mothers and children in their care, seeing what mums can do when they stand together is incredible.
Mothers – regardless of how they feed their children – have stood behind Habiba and Alma, and changed the future for this mother and daughter.
Logo Credit: Louma Sader Bujana at Little Dude Designs