WHAT do you think when you see a woman feeding a child? Disgust, contempt, lustfulness? No? Then why does breastfeeding remain so controversial in many parts of the world, including here in India?
Breastfeeding is nature’s way of providing infants with the necessary nutrients and antibodies. World Health Organization advocates for women to breastfeed exclusively until the child is six months old and supplementary breastfeed alongside complementary foods to age two or older.
In a world where 1 billion children live in poverty and 22,000 children die each day because of these circumstances, breastfeeding provides a low-cost alternative to hunger and malnutrition.
We’re happy to report that a Malayalam magazine is shining light on this topic which many consider taboo. Kerala’s Grihalakshmi’s March 1 issue featured Indian poet and actor, Gilu Joseph, breastfeeding on the cover alongside the headline “Mums tell Kerala: Don’t stare – we want to breastfeed”.
Controversy, of course, ensued with people criticising everything from the model’s supposed flaunting of her breast to the magazine’s sensationalising and sexualising breastfeeding. There were a slew of complaints and suggestions of how mothers should act when feeding their children.
But why is this so contentious? In a less modern time than today, India released a postal stamp prominently featuring a mother breastfeeding her baby in 1984, to no criticism or debate.
Are we really now so indignant just for indignation’s sake? Or is it that social media and the internet have given more people access to information and a voice, no matter how uninformed, a platform on which to pontificate?
In the end, it’s the mindset that must change, not the mothers. Rather than responding automatically, our reflex should be to inform ourselves and help normalise breastfeeding.
Kudos to Grihalakshmi for reigniting the discussion.
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