Kollam (Kerala) [India]: A Kerala-based advocate on Friday filed a case against Malayalam magazine Grihalakshmi for featuring a photograph of a woman breastfeeding an infant on its cover. Advocate Vinod Mathew Wilson filed the case in the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kollam regarding the same.
The magazine cover featured model Gilu Joseph breastfeeding a child with the caption “Mothers tell Kerala, ‘please don’t stare, we need to breastfeed’.” The magazine edition featured the image to campaign for the right to breastfeed in public without shame. The picture raised quite a storm on social media and was even reported in international media.
The social media seemed divided on the issue; while some appreciated the initiative, others considered it as absurd. A Twitterer supporting the initiative urged the people to stand with the campaign and against the narrow-minded people. “Stand with @gilujoseph and @Grihalakshmi_ against those narrow-minded people who can’t see breastfeeding as just another normal human activity,” a person Tweeted.
Why few intellectuals of societies are racking up absurd points.Breastfeeding is a noble job because it's very much required for the health of 👶baby, and this will bring awareness and endorse breastfeeding. I think media should not make it controversy.
— Bhaskar (@cbrsrk) March 3, 2018
— Cheryll Pereira (@seeknsave) March 1, 2018
To say that a magazine coverpage showing a mother breastfeed is trying to titillate audiences and is cultureless is wrong at so many levels. Its such a pure natural process … #grihalakshmi stop shaming mothers for breastfeeding. #breastfeeding
— Tanvi Shukla (@tanvishukla) March 1, 2018
— Ravi Subramanian (@subramanianravi) March 2, 2018
That #Grihalakshmi cover has offended someone’s modesty and a court case has been filed. This is interesting because the uncovered breasts of Malayali women were one of the focal points of the social revolution.
— Shruthi (@shruthipady) March 2, 2018
“Malayalam magazine Grihalakshmi, from @mathrubhumieng, has this new cover. It says, “Mothers tell Kerala, “please don’t stare, we need to breastfeed””. WOW. Unusually bold,” Tweeted another person. While another Twitterer termed the incident as ‘commercial gimmick’ and said that no mother would do such things for a photoshoot.
“Breastfeeding is so sublime that no mother will do for a photoshoot. Our mother has given breastfeeding without any campaign, this is a commercial gimmick in the name of celebrating motherhood,” he Tweeted.
Complaints have been filed before a Kollam court and the Kerala State Child Rights Commission against a Malayalam fortnightly magazine for featuring a model breastfeeding a baby on its cover page. Advocate Nobel Mathew said he filed a complaint in the Kollam Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) court against the magazine and the model-actress Gilu Joseph.
“The case was filed yesterday before the CJM Kollam for offence under sects 3 and 4 of Indecent Representation of Women Act,” Mathew told PTI. The case has been posted for hearing on March 16. The model was featured in the latest edition of ‘Grihalakshmi,’ a sister publication of leading media group ‘Mathrubhumi’. Asked for his reaction on the case being filed on the matter, Joint Managing Director of Mathrubumi group M V Shreyams Kumar said it was done for cheap publicity.
However, he said the group has not received any intimation so far from the court on the matter. Meanwhile, a complaint has also been filed before the Kerala State Commission for Child Rights. Commission Chairman Shobha Koshy said it has been done on charges of “fake feeding” and denial and violation of child rights. “We will look into the complaint,” she said when asked if any action had been taken on the matter.
The magazine in its latest edition had featured Joseph, also an air-hostess, breastfeeding the child without covering her breasts as part of a campaign to end the stigma attached to it, igniting a massive debate. The women’s magazine has also launched a ‘challenge’ urging women to send pictures of them breastfeeding children as part of its ‘breastfeed freely’ campaign. Besides the model, the magazine also carries the photos of Amritha, a 23-year-old Keralite homemaker breastfeeding her one-and-a-half-month-old daughter in a similar way. In January, Amritha’s husband Biju, in his Facebook page, had shared a photo of her breastfeeding their child, urging to end the stigma attached to open breastfeeding.
The magazine drew inspiration from the couple’s bold act to launch the unique campaign. In the article, titled ‘Don’t stare, we want to breastfeed’, the magazine also quotes a number of women from various walks of life including professionals and homemakers. It also carries a detailed article by award-winning writer Indu Menon in this regard. Joseph, 27, said she dedicated the pictures to all mothers who are “longing” to breastfeed their children freely and with pride. “I will happily accept and celebrate all the possible criticism which would come in the name of this campaign and the pictures,” she said.
The model said though she was neither married nor had children, she had no hesitation in accepting the assignment for the cover-shoot when she got a call from Grihalakshmi. Joseph said she was pretty sure that what she was doing was not wrong. “Every mother should celebrate their motherhood.
When I was called for the shoot, I had no hesitation. Do you think unmarried women cannot pose for breastfeeding shoots,” she asked. Pointing out that she had all respect for women who cover themselves while breastfeeding their children, she said they wanted to send a message across that “if you are in a public place, do not worry to feed your child”. The cover-shoot and the campaign have triggered a raging debate on social media.
While a large number of people especially women supported the ‘bold’ and ‘progressive’ attempt by the magazine, some others criticised it for choosing a model for the cover-shoot instead of an ordinary mother. Writer and activist Rahul Easwar described the magazine’s attempt as a ‘commercial gimmick’ in the name of breastfeeding. “This is commercialisation of human body,” he said. Some trolls said it was obscene and vulgar. Australian Senator Larissa Waters, from the left-wing Greens party, had breastfed her daughter during a vote in the federal Senate chamber in May last year, which was widely reported by the international media.
With Agencies inputs