Kerala Mag’s Breastfeeding Model Has ‘No Regrets’ After HC Ruling

Gilu Joseph, the woman who was clicked breastfeeding a child for a Malayalam magazine’s cover, said she had ‘no regrets’ about the controversy, after the Kerala High Court refused to rule the cover as obscene.

In a huge relief for the Malayalam magazine Grihalakshmi, the Kerala High Court recently refused to categorise a cover of the magazine showing a model breastfeeding a child as obscene, stating that shocking one’s morals” is an “elusive concept” and that “one man’s vulgarity is another man’s lyric”.

According to legal affairs website Livelaw.in, the Bench comprising then Chief Justice Antony Dominic and Justice Dama Seshadri Naidu dismissed the petition, saying, “Going by the contemporary community standards and without troubling ourselves with patent offensiveness – we may observe that, given the picture’s particular posture and its background setting (mother feeding the baby), as depicted in the magazine, it is not prurient or obscene; nor even suggestive of it. We, therefore, dismiss the writ petition.”

The magazine’s March 2018 issue carried a photo of Dubai-based actor and model Gilu Joseph looking directly at the camera, with a baby at her breast. The text on the cover read: “Mothers tell Kerala: please stop staring, we need to breastfeed.” It immediately became the topic of hot debate on social media.

Speaking to NDTV on the entire ordeal, including the ‘slut-shaming’ that followed on social media, Joseph said:

"I was slut shamed, was termed a blue-film actor. My mother was called names. But I knew I would have to hear all this. I took it in my stride. This issue is about breastfeeding and it’s an important cause. There is no question of regretting anything. This is my work. I have cared in films as a mother, what’s so different about this." - Gilu Joseph to NDTV

Also Read: After Grihalakshmi, New Breastfeeding Moms Post Pics in Solidarity

The image was part of a campaign called “Breastfeed Freely”, according to NDTV, which is attempting to stop shaming women breastfeeding in public. However, NDTV said that the decision to use a model who is not a mother herself became a point of contention among many netizens criticising the cover.

The outrage culminated in advocate Vinod Mathew filing a case at the Court of Judicial Magistrate in Kollam, Kerala, against the publishers and Joseph, The News Minute reported. Another advocate, Jiyas Jamal from Aluva, also lodged a complaint with the State Child Rights Commission against Joseph, the publishers of Grihalakshmi and the parents of the baby who was featured.

According to Livelaw.in, the Petitioner, Felix M A had said that the magazine cover violated provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and Rules, as well as Section 45 of the Juvenile Justice Act. He had also alleged violation of provisions of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, and Article 39(e) and (f) of the Constitution of India.

Also Read: Case Against Grihalakshmi and Gilu Joseph for Breastfeeding Cover

However, the court did not agree with the allegations made by the petitioner. “Even the sections relied on by Felix fail to convince us that the respondent publishers have committed any offence, much less a cardinal one, affecting the Society’s moral fabric, and offending its sensibilities,” the bench said.

(With inputs from The News Minute, Livelaw.in and NDTV.)

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