Case Against Grihalakshmi and Gilu Joseph for Breastfeeding Cover

The case has been registered under Sections 3 and 4 of the Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986.

3 min read
<i>Grihalakshmi</i>’s breastfeeding cover.

The latest issue of a Malayalam magazine named Grihalakshmi, that shows a woman breastfeeding on its cover, was bound to attract eyeballs. The magazine, which came out with a campaign to normalise breastfeeding, now has a case slapped on it.

The case, registered under sections 3 and 4 of the Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986 has been filed by an advocate named Vinod Mathew at the Kollam CJM court and will be considered for further hearing on 16 March. Both the publishers and the model, Gilu Joseph, have been named in the case, The News Minute reported.

Talking to the Indian Express, the model said that a query for this shoot had come to her just like any other but the moment she got to know about the issue that was being addressed, she made her mind to go for it. Joseph defended the concept of the shoot to the Indian Express, “It is a problem to interpret this (breastfeeding) sexually. Isn’t it a beautiful thing? Why would you think it’s wrong? Which god will you offend by feeding your child?”

The case came the very next day the Malayalam magazine faced outrage on social media for using a model on the cover instead of a real mother as it was being promoted as a campaign for open breastfeeding.

Another complaint was filed with the State Child Rights Commission against both the said parties as well as the parents of the baby featured in the magazine by lawyer Jiyas Jamal from Aluva.

The March 2018 issue of Mathrubhumi Grihalakshmi, in its cover, uses a newborn baby to create a picture of a breastfeeding mother. An unmarried Gilu Joseph, who is an advertisement model, has posed as the mother who is breastfeeding the baby in the cover photo of the magazine. The model’s breast which is bereft of milk is stuffed into the child’s mouth and this is how the photo is captured. In this manner, the baby’s health and rights have been exploited. Using the child for commercial purposes is indeed a grave issue. 
The complaint, as quoted by The News Minute.

“Such incidents which attempt to commercialise motherhood and breastfeeding put the rights of newborn babies in danger. The cover, which tricked the baby into thinking that the model is its mother and that it will get milk, is an embarrassment to our society as a whole,” the complaint further added.

Speaking to The News Minute, Moncy Joseph, the editor-in-chief of Grihalakshmi , responded to these allegations.

We were planning to use a real mother for the cover. However, despite repeated attempts, we were unable to get a real mother to feature on the cover. However, there is a picture of a real mother breastfeeding inside the story. It was not an easy task. We finally had to get Gilu to pose for us, and she was more than happy to do so. As for allegations about sexualising the breast, I just want to say that people can look at it however they want to. Those intent on sexualising the human body will only see the photograph in that manner. The problem does not lie with the photograph, it is purely in the mindset of the people.
Moncy Joseph, Editor in Chief, Grihalakshmi to News Minute

(With inputs from The News Minute and The Indian Express.)

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