This has been done in compliance with the Sharia law that is prevalent in countries in the Gulf, Grihalakshmi editor-in-chief Moncy Joseph has said. The law prohibits exposure of most parts of women's bodies on covers of magazines and audio albums.
The viral cover of Grihalakshmi, and the story accompanying it had been aimed to destigmatize the taboo around free and open breastfeeding.
Magazines from Kerala and Tamil have a good circulation in Gulf region is huge, thanks to the Indian expatriate population from South Indian states in those countries. Therefore it was no surprise that the latest edition of Grihalakshmi would find its way to stalls there.
According to a report in PGurus.com, many book stalls and shop owners in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah are retailing the magazine with a black strip on a portion of the cover page.
Moncy Joseph, assistant editor of Mathrubhumi and editor-in-chief at Grihalakshmi — under which Grihalakshmi functions — confirmed to International Business Times India that the front-page photo had indeed been covered up.
He said: "Normally, these kinds of pictures are not allowed for display in the Gulf region because of Sharia law over there. It [covering up of the Gilu Joseph front-page picture] is not an editorial decision."
Meanwhile, a case was filed against Grihalakshmi magazine and Gilu Joseph under Sections 3 and 4 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act of 1986 by an advocate named Vinod Mathew Wilson in the CJM court in Kollam in Kerala a few days ago. A hearing in the case is scheduled for March 16.
Asked about the allegations leveled by Wilson in the case, Moncy said: "I can't tell you much about it since it's a legal issue. All I can tell you is that our legal team is handling it. We shot this cover for the right cause and promote free and open breastfeeding. I think the advocate, who has filed the case against our magazine and the model, is doing this only to gain free publicity."
Gilu Joseph, meanwhile, was slut-shamed and accused of partaking in a publicity stunt because of the cover.
She recently responded to the trolls, saying: "I have not earned a single penny out of it and I have been mostly receiving abuses from people. People would probably have no problems seeing graphic images of people getting killed in newspapers and television, but cannot bear to see a woman bond with her child by feeding it."
People on social media also criticized the publication for not featuring a real mother and instead allowing a model to pose as a mother when she is not.
Meanwhile, PETA India honored the magazine with it's 2018 Good Mother Award for highlighting the importance of human breast milk for infants' health.