I HAVE MY PERIODS: TIME TO SAY IT LOUD AND CLEAR
Constructive social norms and behavioural changes need be introduced for a progressive view of menstruation
In the world full of modernization, the enduring taboos associated with menstruation continue to endanger the lives of women in the so-called modern society of India. This taboo is hindering the country's Global development.
Vaginal bleeding is normal and as natural as any other human problem. Women go through excruciating pain, cramp, anxiety, and other mental challenges throughout the 5 days of a month for almost half of her life.Menstruation is a sign of Womanhood. It is no cure, but a blessing in itself. It's not a disease or a curse, but a welcoming change in a girl's life.
Our society has introduced new synonyms next to menstruation- discomfort, awkwardness, unhygienic, embarrassment, dirty, many religions consider it impure and somehow women are considered less of a human being on those five days.
Whenever somebody talks about 'Whisper' and 'Stayfree' menstrual taboos are unspoken, yet omnipresent. The fact of the matter is that the stained jeans will wash off with water but the stain of shame, weird gossip accompanied by the visible mark on the skirt does not.
No surprise but even in the 21st century, the shame, stigma, and misconception associated with it prevail across different parts of the world even today. The older females in the family often say- "Don't enter a temple, Don't enter the kitchen, Don't touch pickles, how can you sit on the bed, etc." These are the bizarre rules laid down on a menstruating woman. The psychological trauma that this inflicts affects her personality, self-esteem, and every single aspect of growing up.
Nowadays, girls menstruate in class 6th or 7th and according to the Indian education curriculum they are taught about Menstruation in class 8th or 9th. At home the females forbid talking about periods, at school teachers probably skip the topic of menstruation, and this leads to a thick communication gap.
A report from UNICEF revealed that in South Asia, one in three girls has no idea about menstruation before their first period and therefore, they struggle to understand their body changes. Many girls consider it some disease and many end up thinking this as blood cancer.
LACK OF AWARENESS
The idea of segregation stemmed from the patriarchal discomfort. Let alone everything, People talk about freedom of expression but when it comes to the basic human problems they stand silent due to the circle of social taboo.
Out of 336 million menstruating women in India, only 121 million women are using sanitary napkins. While others use cloth and even leaves that lead to vaginitis and urinary tract infections. 23 million girls drop out of school annually after their first periods. It is time to acknowledge the challenges that a woman goes through every single month silently. The survival and propagation of our species depend on this yet we choose to suppress all the talks of this concern.
PM BREAKS THE TABOO ASSOCIATED WITH MENSTRUATION
On the 74th Independence day of the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledged a social taboo openly from the ramparts of Red Fort, he spoke about the sanitary napkins and the government's contribution towards it and thereby, 'Clean India'.
"This government has always been concerned about the health of our daughters and sisters. Through 6,000 Jan Aushadhi centers, about 50 million women have got sanitary pads at Rs. 1. We have worked for women's empowerment. The Navy and Air Force are taking women in combat roles. Women are now leaders," said PM Modi.
STATES DISASSOCIATED WITH THIS TABOO
In this era of discomfort, there are societies around India that consider Menstruation a boon instead of a curse.
In Odisha, a four-day festival is organised to celebrate menstruation and womanhood. It is popularly known as 'Raja Praba'.
In parts of South India, the first menstrual cycle of a girl is popularly celebrated. Girls adorn in new clothes and are given gifts.
UPLIFTMENT MORE IMPORTANT THAN MODERNISATION
Both the gender need to be educated in order to create a circle of comfort. Men should be sensitized about menstruation; they should not end up mocking about it because this is just a natural biological process. According to a report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) shame, taboo, and misconception about menstruation lead to discrimination, which is a serious concern for human rights.
Periods should be disassociated with the term "Taboo". Constructive social norms, behavioural changes, and acceptance have to be introduced. There is a need to create a clean space and a new era of comfort. It should no longer be a nationwide Taboo!
The stigma has to be bursted. Menstruation is a fact of life. Let's talk further and use our freedom of expression. Our conversation should move further from "Have I stained my skirt?"
I'VE MY PERIOD, LET ME SAY THAT LOUD AND CLEAR AGAIN!