Menstruation is a phenomenon unique to girls. However, it has always been surrounded by taboos and myths that exclude women from many aspects of socio-cultural life. In India, the topic has been taboo to date. I believe at least some of us will agree to the fact that the menstrual cycle is a natural process intrinsically linked with a woman’s body. Still many of us follow restrictions during our menstrual cycles, whether it’s in our homes, our relatives’ homes, or at any religious event. The freedom of women continues to be in the hands of dominant patriarchal discourse. Very few cultures across the world have acknowledged that menstruation is a natural phenomenon. With the evolution of these cultures, there has not been any significant change in people’s attitudes towards menstruation.
In February 2020, nearly 70 female students at an institute in Gujarat’s Bhuj were allegedly forced to remove their undergarments just to prove that they are not menstruating. This highly condemnable and shameful act took place in an era where we talk about women’s empowerment and the smashing of patriarchy. Periods have long been associated with dirt, disgust, fear, and shame. Women who menstruate have long been taught to keep silent about their periods. Young girls are taught from a young age that they have to manage it privately and discreetly. This shame not only affects how they feel about menstruation but how they feel about their bodies. Menorrhagia, dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, and PCODs are some of the issues related to menstruation, but due to societal stigmatization, many women hesitate in seeking medical help. The majority of them don’t even know that these issues need medical treatment because they are always asked to keep shut and bear both physical and mental pain silently. In Indian households including the literate ones, women are constantly reminded of the old-age traditions where “you are not allowed to touch anything holy, visit temples, cook or touch pickle.” The reason being that menstruating women are “unhygienic or unclean”. The taboo is so ingrained that women often have the “walk of shame” while carrying their sanitary pads wrapped in black plastic bags in their hands. The misconception infiltration is so high that menstruation has been considered the best-kept secret of women. Recent studies showed that awareness about menarche (onset of menstruation) is very low. Even the discussion about the topic is considered taboo.
It’s high time that we normalize menstruation as just a healthy and positive part of the female life cycle. Menstrual periods are nothing to be ashamed of. Menstrual hygiene campaigns like ‘Chuppi todo, Sayani Bano’ of Rajasthan must be replicated across the country. Suvidha and Ujjawala schemes have been launched by the government to provide affordable sanitary pads. Methods popularised by the “pad man of India” Arunachalam Muruganantham must be scaled up so that affordable sanitary pads are available in all schools, offices, and other public buildings. Menstruation is nothing but a very normal biological phenomenon, and adolescent girls and women should understand that they have the power of procreation only because of this virtue.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge