Bro- Come Nitanshi! Why are you standing here and not entering the temple?
Nitanshi- Nothing bhaiya! Not willing to come, you carry on.
Bro- Are you stupid or what, come with me. Everyone is going to the temple & you are not willing! You are such an idiot.
Nitanshi- Bhaiya aap jaao na, mera mnn nahi hai.
(The brother leaves & sister started crying because she can’t explain the reason to brother as per the specified norms. Mother was looking it all but haven’t uttered a word.)
Menstruation, Period or Monthly is the consistent release of blood & mucosal tissues from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina. In simple words, when pregnancy doesn’t occur, the uterus or womb sheds its lining in the form of blood and tissues.
Menarche, the term used to describe the beginning of the menstruation period, it begins around the age of 11-15 and ends around the age of 48-53, its ending is termed as Meno-pause. These ages are not rigid, it varies from person to person. It continues for 5-7 days & happens after every 28 days! BOOM! Bleeding for 5 days a month, is it easy to this?
Guess, what a girl can feel while going through with all this? Well, periods don’t come alone, they come with a big basket of other hustles. Some of them are as follows:
- Abdominal or pelvic cramping pain
- Mood swings
- Lower back pain
- Craving for food
- Fatigue etc.
THOUGHT PROCESS REGARDING PERIODS
- THOSE DAYS
Menstruation is quite a normal process, but in India, it has been given a different direction. When a girl starts menstruating, they are asked to keep their mouth shut in front of all the males regarding what exactly is happening with them. They can not even tell anyone about the pain they are facing. Still, in villages, they are given a completely different treatment. A different room with separate utensils, mat & different clothes for THOSE days. Just because they are considered impure when they are bleeding. Like seriously, are we living in a developing country?
- SANITARY NAPKIN
Girls in the villages do not have access to sanitary napkins to overcome the days of periods. They are still relying on clothes, even after 2 years of the release of PADMAN, which was focused on the menstrual hygiene, quite efficiently emphasized on the useless traditions regarding menstruation and the way how should we treat it. Women are still expelled from the villages during their period cycle.
- LITERATE’S CONTRIBUTION
Even the literates are playing a big role in creating it as a taboo, mothers don’t educate their sons regarding this. If a sister talks about this with his brother, the mother stops her. I have witnessed an incident in which a girl asked her brother to join him to watch PADMAN, but her mother scolded her & said “this is not his type of movie”. What is this his type? Isn’t he have the right to know that exactly what difficulties are faced by her mother, sister, wife & daughter? & at the end we say how can boys understand all this? When did we even give them chance to understand?
- SITUATION IN URBAN AREAS
The situation is not very good in cities either, in cities girls have access to sanitary napkins but when they go to purchase it, they have hesitation in asking for the sanitary napkins from the shopkeepers. If girl purchases sanitary pads from the shop then they get it covered in the black polybags, although everyone knows what’s inside it, still, it’s convention & people are following it blindly.
MYTHS ACROSS THE GLOBE
Myths related to menstruation make it even harder for women to share it with anyone. They feel ashamed of menstruating at times. Guess what, they are ashamed of not getting pregnant. It is the thing that society filled in their minds. This process is quite normal but still provides a big foundation to gender discrimination. Some of the myths or superstitions are as follows:
- MYTH– Women can’t enter the kitchen during the time of menstruation.
The reason behind it– There is no strong ground to support this belief. It is solely on the cultural inclination of people. They believe that girls are impure and unhygienic during the periods which may result in spoilage of foods too. Although there is no such scientific impetus which proves this belief.
- MYTH- Women are not allowed to enter the place of worship and also not allowed to touch any of the religious stuff.
The reason behind it – Girls are considered impure during the time of menstruation, just because of this reason they are asked not to enter the temples but the base of SANATANA DHARM is the 4 Vedas. The four Vedas nowhere states that a woman’s body is impure or that she cannot do worship during menstruation. Prohibiting women from entering temples and tagging them as impure is completely against the teachings of the Vedas.
- MYTH- Girls are advised not to wash hairs during menstruation.
The reason behind it – It is recommended to girls to wash their hairs on the fourth day of menstruation & not prior to that. It is believed that washing hairs after 4th day reduces the flow and also provides them a license to enter into the worship areas. Again, there is no scientific support behind it.
- MYTH- If a girl touches any vegetable before or during the pickling process then it would not pickle and would waste all the efforts.
The Reason behind it – It is another convention of Indian society, where mothers asks their daughters not to touch the pickle as it may get rot because of their impure touch of menstruation days. To get rid of this taboo Whisper, a sanitary napkin brand of P&G launched a campaign #touchthepickle, thankfully which gave a loud message & at least changed the thought process of some families.
DATA & FACTS
- According to Census 2011 population data, about 336 million girls and women in India are of reproductive age and menstruate for 5-7 days, every month. Now, it will be even more.
- National Family Health Survey 2015-2016 estimates that of the 336 million menstruating women in India about 121 million (roughly 36 per cent) women are using sanitary napkins, locally or commercially produced. The use of clothes exposes them to severe diseases like cervical cancer, Reproductive Tract Infections, Hepatitis B infection, various types of yeast infections, Urinary Tract Infections etc.
- A 2016 study titled – ‘Menstrual hygiene management among adolescent girls in India’ involving nearly 100,000 girls in India found that almost 50,000 did not know about menstruation until the first time they got their period.
- A 2014 report by the NGO Dasra titled ‘Spot On!’ informed that almost 23 million girls in India drop out of school annually, because of lack of menstrual hygiene management facilities, including the availability of sanitary napkins and awareness about menstruation.
- Even in the time of Covid-19, girls who rely on schools for the sanitary napkins failed to get it due to lockdown. From last few years, some of the government schools are providing 10 sanitary napkins a month to school going girls, to decrease the school drop-out rate. One of the girls said to BBC “Periods don’t stop during a pandemic. Pads are essential for women, like food. Why does the government ignore our requirement?”
MENSTRUAL HYGIENE DAY
All the above-mentioned data gives a clear picture that women’s conditions are not good in respect of menstruation. There is a huge need of awareness related to periods, which is often considered as taboo all across the world. To improve the prevailing conditions, the MENSTRUAL HYGIENE DAY is observed on 28th May every year. At least for a single day some efforts are taken by public to generate awareness regarding it.
Menstrual Hygiene Day was initiated by the German non-profit WASH United in 2013. WASH United is the overall global coordinator of MH Day and acts as its international secretariat
The prime focus of observing this day was to break the silence, raise awareness and change negative social norms surrounding MHM around the world.
So, try to make your near and dear ones comfortable in talking to you about it. Make it easy for a girl, to open up with the menstruation talks but keep it in a civilized way. Girls are also expected not to remain very much private in it, as it is not a crime. It’s a normal biological process which is responsible for everyone’s existence on earth.
SOMETHING GOOD ON ITS WAY!
Zomato an Indian restaurant aggregator and food delivery start-up, allowed its female employees & the transgender ones to avail 10 days of period leave every year. Co-founder Deepinder Goyal made a great move & it actually blew the minds of the public. Zomato made the #periodleaves a new buzz. The co-founder hankered the employees to freely communicate, without any sort of shame and tried his level best to break the stigma while applying for period leaves.
One is not born, but rather becomes, woman.Simone de Beauvoir
This is the harsh reality, that in every society woman is considered as the second sex or the other sex whereas men are treated as the default or the prime sex, who were and are dominant on females over everything. Girls are explained this fact from their childhood, & they start accepting it with each passing day, but this needs to be changed. Now the time has arrived when the women need to embrace the womanhood they have. They need to be respected by others for whatever is happening with them. It increases the need of gender sensitization programs to instil the respect for self-gender as well as for other genders too. The move by Zomato as well as Whisper is supremely great for the development of the society and for the nation as well.
Every individual needs someone to understand them, the same is with women. There is a need to accept the period as the normal phenomenon, instead of making it a taboo. Women need respect and not sympathy.
Menstrual blood is the only source of blood that is not traumatically induced. Yet in modern society, this is the most hidden blood, the one so rarely spoken and almost never seen, except privately by women.Judy Grahn