Seven's Koch defends breastfeeding views amid social debate

By By Amy Kellow | 21 January 2013
David Koch has defended his comments about breastfeeding mothers on this morning's Sunrise episode despite a public backlash.

Sunrise presenter David Koch has defended his argument that women should be "discreet" while breastfeeding in public despite public outcry and a social media backlash.

Koch, who said last week said that breastfeeding mothers should be "discreet" about it and not do so in high traffic areas, has stood by his comments on this morning's Sunrise episode.

He said: "It's my opinion, everyone's entitled to one. I think you should breastfeed anywhere, anytime at all, you've just got to be aware of your environment and show respect and common courtesy to others. Depending on the situation, you should be discreet and modest."

His claims were refuted by the segment's guest - a breastfeeding mother - who said: “I think your comment was well-intentioned but you have such a huge audience here. By saying that women should cover up or be discreet, that word has a shame connotation,’’ she said.

Koch responded: "I apologise if you feel that way."

His comments, which originally aired on Sunrise's 18 January episode, have stirred significant public backlash. A group of nursing mothers rallied outside Seven's Martin Place studios this morning in the hope of normalising public breastfeeding.

Koch has also been heavily criticised on social media for his remarks, with one user claiming on Twitter his views resembled those of the Taliban.

"This notion that women must be discreet when feeding babies so as not to offend old men is a tad Taliban," the user said.

One user said: "My remote will talk for me. I will not watch discriminatory views being perpetuated". Another argued that "asking a breast feeding woman to hide isn’t 'fair enough', it's discriminatory. In fact it's so not fair enough IT'S ILLEGAL."

One user claimed Koch's comments were encouraging women to "take sexist bigots into consideration".

The backlash has also sparked a Change.Org petition urging Channel Seven to force him to publicly apologise.

However, many users have supported Koch's claims, with one deeming the "hate" he is receiving as "ridiculous".

One said: "Cover up, be discreet. It might be natural to some but not all want to see it". another argued: "I agree, I think these women need to be respectful to others as others are respectful to them."

Koch has also expressed his thoughts on social media. On 18 January, he posted: "For those who obviously didn't see Sunrise & are getting my comments 2nd & 3rd hand I did NOT say women shouldn't breast feed in public. But I don't think it's unreasonable to expect breast feeding in public is done discreetly. I think that's just a common courtesy to others."

Koch's original controversial comments accompanied a recent story about a mother who was told to stop breastfeeding by staff at a public pool in Queensland.

His original remarks were: "I think that's fair enough, to be a bit more discreet and go up on the grass or something."

Presenter Samantha Armytage did not agree, claiming mothers should be able to breastfeed on the side of a pool if they wish to do so.

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