An initiative taken by #kerala's leading women’s magazine, Grihalakshmi has a cover of an actress and model Gilu Joseph staring into the camera as she breastfeeds an infant with bold letters written on the caption “Moms tell Kerala- don’t stare, we want to breastfeed.” The magazine’s campaign is “breastfeed freely” which released on the occasion of International Women's Day. The magazine portrays that now in the 21st century we need to break the taboo and support women who breastfeed their baby publicly.

The photo triggered the debate in India as some supporters supported the bold move taken by Grihalakshmi’s magazine to create awareness in the people.

It’s a progressive step to break the taboo. Others felt that its an offensive business move that was taken by the Magazine to move its circulation as Kerala is known for its literacy rate and never looked down on the breastfeeding mothers. In other parts of the nation mothers always look for a corner to breastfeed their child and are expected to cover up as, according to the society, it’s not good that even the slightest portion can be seen. Some people don’t know that in 1984, Indian government released a postal stamp that featured a mother breastfeeding a child without covering up.

What 1986 Act says

Where this magazine cover got appreciated was by the world’s leading NGO’s including UNICEF #India for its awareness campaign. It is also going through some legal trouble as Vinod Wilson, filed a criminal case against the magazine under section 3 and 4 of the Indecent representation of women (prohibition) Act of 1986.

Under this section: “Indecent representation of women through advertisement or in publication, writing, paintings, figures or in any other manner or exhibition connected therewith or incidental thereto.” The woman and the magazine did not say anything bad but it comes under Indecent representation of women Act. She'd never been taught that breastfeeding is a sin and something to be covered up and this campaign is for a good purpose.

Debate triggered

On 9th may, 2017 when an Australian member of parliament Larissa Waters breastfed her daughter in the Australian parliament the world did not end. On the other hand, she was appreciated for her motherhood values. India at present is ranked lowest among the South Asian countries in breastfeeding practices. The opinions were divided into two halves one supported that the issue of the magazine as just encouraging the women to breastfeed their child in public. The common people are aware that if any woman is breastfeeding in public, she should not feel awkward.

It is her right to feed her baby; why should anyone stare? The opposition says that this campaign is just a cheap gimmick act done by the magazine owner to increase the magazine's rating.

In India when the government is driving a campaign for “Women empowerment” this kind of bold move taken by the magazine will be appreciated as we always want to become a developed country like the United States or the United Kingdom but fail to break the wrong mindsets of the people. No one objected when the postal stamps got published in an era when India was not as modern as it is now.

This is such a serious issue raised by the Grihalakshmi Magazine which has interviews with the women who face the problem of breastfeeding in public. But all the seriousness has been diverted to the breastfeeding issue with the cover of the magazine. No matter how much we talk about the women’s right and women’s freedom, still we are failing to change the mindsets of the people. Do you think it's necessary for a woman breastfeeding her child to cover-up?