Tue, Feb 22, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Public outrage leaves Chinese firm `breastless'

AFP , BEIJING

Public criticism has forced a company in eastern China to shelve a controversial plan to provide wet-nurse services to career women who are too busy to breastfeed their babies, state media said yesterday.

Bang Bang household services company in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, planned to launch its business this month, and had recruited 13 wet nurses aged between 25 and 30 to breastfeed its clients' babies, the government mouthpiece China Daily said.

But the company came under fire from the media and the public, who accused it of trying to revive what they said was an inhumane and degrading practice.

"In this commercialized society, money is involved in everything including the closest blood relations," the Shanxi Commercial Daily said.

The wet nurses were to be paid 50 yuan (US$6) per day.

Rich people in China used to employ impoverished women from the countryside -- who gave birth to still-born babies or who had given up their children because they could not afford to bring them up -- as wet nurses.

But the practice was seen as exploitative and fell out of favor under Communist Party rule.

Chen Shunqiang, the owner of the company, told Xinhua news agency that his company came up with the idea after many career women expressed interest in such a service.

They were mostly women worried that breastfeeding would ruin their careers, or might make them put on weight, he said.

To ensure that the wet nurses were of a good caliber and would produce good quality milk, Chen said his nurses had to pass stringent health checks to ensure they were not carriers of contagious diseases.

The reports did not say how many, if any, clients had subscribed to the service.

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