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A Malayalam Magazine Is Fighting For Moms To Breastfeed Without Stigma

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The latest issue of Malayalam magazine Grihalakshmi has been turning heads with its front cover, featuring a breastfeeding mother. The model on the cover cradles her baby while looking boldly into the camera. The text on the front reads: “Mothers tell Kerala, ‘please don’t stare, we need to breastfeed’”.

Source: Grihalakshmi/Facebook.

The simple and natural act of breastfeeding a child has long been a taboo. To do it, nursing mothers have been forced to hide away – sometimes in removed parts of their homes, sometimes in unsanitary toilets. Many have said that if people wouldn’t have dinner in a bathroom stall, then why should infants suffer this imposition? In fact, in the run-up to Women’s Day on March 8, Grihalakshmi has launched a campaign to fight the taboo against breastfeeding. The inspiration came from a post uploaded to Facebook by a young mother, who later told the magazine about how she was told off for feeding her newborn in the hospital: “Some even said that if I fed my child without covering my breasts, they would dry up very soon. These are all age-old superstitions which are still being spread by young people. Some would even throw a towel on me while I fed my baby and then check if I was trying to remove it.”

This sort of backward and ridiculous attitude needs to change. Too many Indians are more offended by the sigh of a mother breastfeeding, than they are of misogynist depictions of women in so much of our media. Grihalakshmi’s front cover is trying to remedy that.

The magazine is no stranger to batting for women’s rights. In 2016, its team organised the Women’s Midnight Half-Marathon, started on at 10.30pm on January 30, and ending in the wee hours of January 31.

According to the Indian Readership Survey of 2014, Grihalakshmi sold 826,000 copies. With the magazine’s reach, the image of open breastfeeding is definitely going to help people see that breastfeeding is not something to be ashamed or secretive about.

The last time we saw something like this so publicly was in 2016, when the National Health Commission released a similar image promoting one of its programmes. Let’s not forget this was a government sponsored ad which appeared in newspapers!

Going forward, it would be great for more and more regional and national publications follow in Grihalakshmi’s steps, because we need it!

You must be to comment.
  1. Gaurav Verma

    I thought this was problem of US and we were rather liberal about this in India.

  2. Shankar N Kashyap

    Very well written article. This has been a problem in the west for a number of years and we in India have been quite liberal so far. However the response shows that some of our population is regressing following a western sexist model. Breast feeding is a natural phenomenon and should not be treated as anything else. It is time that we get back to our ancient cultural values of respect for women they deserve. Kudos to Grihalakshmi to take such a bold step. I wish more mainstream magazines take a lead too.

    1. Sonu Pandey

      हम सभी एक स्वतंत्र देशके स्वतंत्र नागरिक हैं, और ये पूरी तरह हमपर निर्भर करता है कि हम इस आजादी का इस्तेमाल कैसे करते हैं। ऐसा वर्णन मिलता है कि प्राचीन कालमें महिलाएँ शरीर के ऊपरी हिस्से में वस्त्र धारण नहीं करती थीं, जबकि आज की आधुनिकतम भारतीय नारी भी सार्वजनिक तौर पर अपने वक्षस्थल को ढक कर ही रखना पसंद करती है। वक्षस्थल की तस्वीर का या वक्षस्थल का सार्वजनिक प्रदर्शन आज नारी गरिमा के विपरीत माना जाता है। सामान्यतया भारतीय नारी बच्चों को दूध पिलाते समय अपने वक्षस्थल को किसी भी तरह के कपडे़ से ढककर दूध पिलाती है। पर ये पूरी तरह उस नारी पर निर्भर करता है, मान लीजिए किसी के दो बच्चे हैं, दोनों को भूख लगी तो वह नारी दोनों को कपडे़ से ढककर दूध पिला सकती है, या उस मैगजीन के कवरको आदर्श मानकर अपने सभी ऊपरी वस्त्र उतारकर भी दूध पिला सकती है। समस्या ये है कि यहाँ के पुरुष नासमझ हैं, ऐसा करनेवाली नारी को घूरनेवालोंका हजूम लग जाएगा ।

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