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Your comments: Breastfeeding and Egyptian film

Kevin Anderson | 18:03 UK time, Thursday, 6 July 2006

We're starting off discussing a public health campaign in the US to encourage breastfeeding. The Best for Mom, Best for Baby theme is also mixed with adverts that compare those who don't breastfeed to women who smoke when they are pregnant. You can go here to see some of the ads and make up your own mind.

After that, we discussed the controversial film, The Yacoubian Building, what some are calling Egypt's Brokeback Mountain.

Anna joined us from Seattle in the US. She is eight months pregnant and says that she is houded by health practicioners to breast feed. She doesn't want to breast feed.

Kathryn in the US breastfed two children. She said that she found it more convenient. She didn't need to take along the sterilising bottles. She encouraged Anna to at least try it. But doing the best for your child is better than breast versus bottle. She found the ad that we played on the programme funny. You can listen to the ad here (1 minute, 1.8MB MP3 file).

Patricia and Grace, also in Nairobi, said it just comes naturally to women in Africa. Patricia says that they can buy formula. But breastfeeding is reinforced, she said.

Anna works in an industry where she is often the only woman in meetings. It is difficult to get credibility as a woman in business, and "Sitting in an office and whipping out a breast just wouldn't help out at all," she added.

Patricia once travelled to the US. She was surprised when she went to breastfeed that people were shocked. In Africa, it is much more acceptable.

People make room for you. You just sit down, and you take out breast and feed.

But Barkha in India said that she would not feel comfortable breastfeeding even in front of close friends. She got a little sick of the breast versus bottle argument. She had problems with breastfeeding initially. Her baby was not very big at birth, and her friends and family put pressure on her. She was sick with worry.

Karen from Florida now living in Holland sent us this text:

Its typical of the u.s. to call it lactation and not use the word breast.

Film sets off debate in Egypt

Sam gave us a synopsis for the film the The Yacoubian Building. It tracks the changes in Egyptian society since the start of the last century. He said that the film showed the various strata of Egyptian society using the metaphor of a building. He said that it was an amazingly frank view of society.

The film has offended some with views of homosexual sex and political corruption.

Director Marwan Hamed said that he was shocked at the reaction, and he is pleased that people are thinking about it and talking about it.

So many films, people go and passively watch. They don't think about the film, so he saw this as positive, but he viewed the debate over the film in Parliament as unhealthy. The Parliament should be about the freedom of speech, not deciding what to censor in film.

The Parliament should not be the 'parents' of the audience

Tamer showed homosexuality in a very stereotypical way, but Marwan pointed out not only those scenes but highlighted the portrayal of political corruption.

Marwan said the film centred around four characters, with one homosexual character. The film avoided sexual scenes, he said. The relationships, his personality was more important. He said that 40 or 50 years ago, Cairo was more cosmopolitan. He wonders what has happened to Egyptian society to make it less tolerant.

Abdullah, Cairo

I believe that each of the two sides discussing the movie dealt with it from an extremist perspective. The film does not go far to tarnishing Egypt's image, as some people say. Also, there are scenes that could have been omitted without losing the plotline of the movie. Regardless, the movie is a piece of work that is worth watching.

Mohamed Beshr, Khartoum

I watched the movie and I admire it for its courageous portrayal of an issue already existing not only in Egypt but also in all societies.

Ayman Dallati, Syria.

Our artists rush to imitate the west in a superficial way. Arab societies are different from western ones, with each having its own intricacies. Arab societies are controlled by traditions which we could not break easily. While western societies allows discussing all issues with a freedom guaranteed by the rule of law.



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