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China Just Arrested 15 People in a Bust on an Adult Breastfeeding Ring

Some people believe breast milk has healing properties, but authorities in China say that milk providers were also working as prostitutes.
December 30, 2014, 11:00am
Via Wikimedia Commons user Tonicthebrown

Photo via Wikimedia Commons user Tonicthebrown

The South China Morning Post reported Monday that 15 people were arrested when the police broke up a prostitution ring in Beijing that gave adults the opportunity to drink human breast milk, which is regarded by some as having healing properties.

Lin Jun, owner of a domestic services Xinxinyu, a TaskRabbit-like company that also provides the service, told the International Business Times that clients "can drink it directly through breastfeeding, or they can always drink it from a breast pump if they feel embarrassed."

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It might not be simple shyness that makes them embarrassed, according to Wendy Haldeman, co-founder of the Pump Station, a breastfeeding resource center in Santa Monica, California. It might be clumsiness. "In general, adults are not very adept in drawing milk from a breast," she said. "One does not simply suck, as on a straw—rather it is a sophisticated motion known as suckling. Babies are really good at this. Adults, not so much."

It's not all that strange for grown-ups to seek human milk. "I am aware of men with cancer drinking human milk as a form of treatment," Haldeman said. It seems that Western men will find any excuse to drink breast milk. At some point most new dads ask to try some, according to a recent Time article.

The Chinese Ministry of Public Security was far from blasé about adults suckling from women's teats though. They say they teamed up with law enforcement in Beijing, and several eastern provinces in a coordinated effort to stop people from drinking from boobs.

Beijing law enforcement had been aware of the rising tide of breast milk drinkers for a while; the Chinese reported on the trend last year. The Telegraph commented when the story came out that it was "capitalism gone mad."

In the US, a lot of people are willing to discuss their "lactophilia" openly. Sites like OnlyTheBreast.com cater mainly to parents looking to give their babies supplementary milk, but they don't seem to shun fetishists, or at least not coy fetishists like the one below who wants to suck the milk out of your nipples but is "not interested in anything sexual."

An International Business Times article pointed out that the Chinese women involved in this "only breastfed their babies once a day or stopped breastfeeding them altogether in order to provide for clients," but it also mentioned that, just like everywhere else on earth, there are also legitimate wet nurses in China who provide the service at much lower prices without the erotic component. Some women just produce a lot of milk.

Does sucking milk from a human breast come with any risks? Haldeman pointed out that there's a slight disease risk if the circumstances are just right: "If these men were breastfeeding, the mother had an open wound on her nipple, [and] the man carried blood-born pathogens, I guess it is conceivable the mom could contract a disease and then transfer to her baby." She also mentioned that "if the man had active hepatic lesions in his mouth, [that] could be a concern."

So the simple fact that breast milk is being squirted into the gaping maws of China's wealthy isn't all that disturbing on the face of it, assuming no diseases are being spread, but there something to the Telegraph's "capitalism gone mad" assessment. When some women are apparently so desperate that they're selling their bodies and their breast milk, that should concern authorities more than some odd men wanting a nipple to suck on.

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