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Menstruation And An Unspoken Culture Of Silence

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By Nidhi Khurana:

I woke up in the morning, went to the washroom and found to my utmost shock that I was bleeding. Did I get injured? I asked myself. But it didn’t hurt. Was it blood cancer? I asked myself again. With all these thoughts, I ran to my mother and told her everything. She neutrally listened to me, went inside, and from a very secretive part of the closet took out a sanitary pad. She asked me to use it and told me that it was nothing that I needed to worry about. I remember, I didn’t even go to school that day and kept lying in my bed, crying and cursing the day. Today I want to ask myself again, “Was it to be cursed?” Clearly, no. That was a great day for me. I was after all embarking on womanhood.

mens

Menstruation in our country has been surrounded by a culture of silence for ages. The topic has always been tabooed, whether you sit among the womenfolk of your community, or among your own family members. The onset of menstruation marks some very important physiological and emotional changes for a girl. Her body is ready to conceive and she starts to like mingling with the opposite sex, and wants to explore a whole lot of things. She often turns to her mother for the answers. But her mother, who does not really know better, either labels her as shameless or asks her to restrain herself and never bring such topics again in any discussion.

The scenario is even worse in villages. Menstruation is still considered to be a taboo there. The girl or woman who is menstruating is not allowed to enter the kitchen, or sometimes even her home. A lot of them are also kept in the cowshed as they are considered to be impure at that time. She is impure as well as dangerous, because she feels sexually aroused when she is menstruating and might make a man impure by approaching him. She is ritually impure too and therefore is not allowed to worship. Her impurity becomes the logic for all the inhumane treatment given to her. But, as it is the characteristic of a belief to be unswervingly accepted by our own system of beliefs, the women themselves don’t mind the same.

But thankfully, I am a privileged child, born in an urban setting, where the internet is readily available. I went to school and my biology teacher gave me a superficial knowledge about menstruation. But I pity those poor girls who never attended school, or had to drop out of school as soon as they attained puberty. I was also lucky because I could afford these expensive sanitary pads and never cared that my school uniform would get soiled. Unfortunately, some school-going girls cannot afford them. Forget about pads, they don’t even have access to toilets in schools and not even at home. How do you expect a girl to attend schools under such hostile conditions? They ultimately tend to miss school during those five days and then drop out in due course of time.

Another issue is her health that suffers due to poor hygiene practices. According to a latest report in a leading daily, only 12 percent of women use sanitary pads. The rest of the 88 percent either cannot afford it or are not aware of it. They rely on home-made pads, rags, unsterilized cloth or any other alternative available to them. There is nothing bad about using home-made pads or cloth. But the culture that has always been silent on the issues of menstruation, prescribes that such things should be kept a secret. So, these women use it and often dry them in some hidden places, away from everyone’s sight, and not in the sunlight. The damp cloth often results in infections that in turn affect her sexual health. And if that happens, she often does not have the option to tell anyone, consequently leading to the removal of her uterus in a lot of cases.

The silence surrounding menstruation has affected women in every way possible. The government aspires to have a healthy nation and empower the status of women as per the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). A lot of NGOs are also working to improve the overall health of the people. But none of the policy debates have ever included menstruation in their agenda. But it is to be hushed in the private as well as in the public sphere. The question is why? Is it really something different from the other processes of life? Well yes, it is the only thing that makes you a woman, blessed with the virtue of creating a new life. I have no qualms talking about my periods, for, I love to assert my womanhood.

You must be to comment.
  1. sachin kumar

    so i think ,it shd b published in news paper ,look! dat girl has become young now,applications r invited from eligible bachelors to make her feel a woman now,n the scenario u discussed above doesnt exist in villages ,every mother remains vigilant towards d anatomical changes of her daughters ,u women only know how to complain ,u women ll never b happy wd any one ,u pick d hole in every good thing ,u just search the things on which u can shed tears n complain others for ur condition………………………….words r not enough to describe the character of a woman ,even brahma cant understand a woman ,better get away from this species ………………..

    1. Nidhi

      When you don’t know what is it to be a girl, why do you even have to express your opinion. And u r complaining that women always have to shed tears for one or the other thing… But what I see here is that u are the one who is criticizing us. Perhaps, you misunderstood this piece. Its not about making a public proclamation of ones puberty but clearing ones doubts that menstruation is not an illness, not even a taboo. And which village are you talking about? I have been to more 50 villages and hardly found any adolescent girl who really had the right knowledge about menstruation, adolescent girl to be precise. Because that is the age at which your mother or your sisters really need to be friendly and open. I appreciate your opinion but would have found it more convincing if only it was an informed opinion..:)

    2. abhijit roy

      Nidhi congratulations on writing these wonderful piece. And seeing that stupid guys comment it just emphasises on how misinformed and ill-informed we are about these whole issue.

    3. Nidhi

      Thanks Abhijit:)

    4. Bharti

      What a shame @ Sachin Kumar. Who the hell gave you right to comment on something you never can and have experience and don’t know what we are talking about of have gone through. This is what explains the plight of the nation. Its these men/boys brought up with the notion of their superiority and it has been deep rooted in Indian boys and men that all women do is crib and this is while the nation or at least some good people are trying to being the nation out of this shit.

      I think the solution might be to throw people like you out of this nation and we’ll be good.

      So fed of this I could open fire on a crowd of men.

    5. AN

      Either you are ignorant or plain stupid! The author is simply stating a fact. Why should women be made to undergo such treatment when menstruation is the reason why we have the capacity to procreate!
      Blood is something that is a part of us all.

      You sir need to work on how you perceive women!

    6. Akshay Thakre

      Sure dude great going. Your mother must be so proud of you that she wasted Life’s 9 months on you. Not to mention your DAD will be even more proud when you rape and kill women I’m sure that’s what your family has taught you. I am ashamed to call you an Indian, you piece of scum sucking shit.

    7. Mitul

      @sachin kumar… Dude, go get a life.. AND GET THE MALE CHAUVINISM ATTITUDE OUT of urself, u pig..
      I wonder, if u have a daughter or u get in future, how will she live… Shows the digusting attitude & opinion of ur chauvinistic pig family..

    8. surabhi

      whoever you are dude, I just pity your state of misinformation and your pathetic opinions. And don’t drag some fucking God in a real conversation about real things. PITY

  2. A M Radhika

    Warning: long comment. This is a good piece to start such discussions with. I’m sure many of us have seen this ted talk by Mr. Arunachalam Muruganantham http://www.ted.com/talks/arunachalam_muruganantham_how_i_started_a_sanitary_napkin_revolution.html which gives one perspective one the current sanitary napkin usage scenario in India. (For more information: google “technology options for sanitary napkin production”)

    I read somewhere that the government plans to implement such sanitary napkin distribution schemes with a $200 billion investment in place. International universities are asking their students (as a part of course-work) to do case studies on businesses like Mr. Muruganantham’s. This brings me to a personal experience. In a seminar room based discussion that I attended on improving the business mentioned above, as expected most of the gentlemen and shockingly, quite a few ladies too did not know whether and should sanitary pads come with an expiry date or not (you know right?). This is in addition to the weird expressions that we all gave each other while beginning the discussion. Fortunately for us, later on everyone did contribute their opinions pretty clearly and frankly once they got comfortable. So why did even men contribute to this discussion? Because it was presented in business case study form (and of course, was to be evaluated through exams). I guess “baat karne se baat banti hai” ?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkQL7UJYDIY

  3. Rupam

    I really appreciate the fact that the author has tried to and brought out a part of life of a lady, that’s more often than not shrouded in insignificance, but is of such vital consequence to a larger outlook of life as well as society. In similar terms there are many other parts of life that stay obscured as insignificant little things but which taken together often make or break vital parts of the society. Kudos to the author for having brought this phenomenon to scope.

  4. Akshay Thakre

    @Sachin Kumar. You’re the reason why India is still unsafe for women and you’re the reason real men like us have to hang our heads in shame all the time. You are just a pansy ass loser who’s never gonna get laid. Why don’t you slip into something more comfortable like a coma maybe or even better. Just stop living and do us all a huge favor.

  5. Nikhilesh

    Dude at contemprory time the wave is like that if u try say anything even right things that discomforts the girls..u will be labelled as rapist/molester….if not then certainly will be called as primitive thinker..so i better keep my mouth shut..

  6. sandeep

    actually there is a NGO which is working on this subject
    http://goonj.org/
    goonz is a NGO which provides sanitary napkin to the rural women

  7. sachin kumar

    As expected ,in fact i shdnt have tried to throw stone in shit ,my white cloth has to b stained ,but someone has to come forward let my cloth b stained by u people’s mudslinging , ur mother has taught to publicly libel a person u dont know n make baseless allegations, i have seen women,s responsibility towards dere family ,society n nation n i m proud dat our women have become aware about sanitation n dere health but at d same time i m ashamed of women indulging in substance abuse ,alcoholism late night outings n adulteries n showing uncouth behavior on streets . my statement cant b d object of defamation but u people’s statement is a subject to defamation cuz u r indicating a particular person .I m a middle class person n i used to respect women but dey r not respectable anymore ,we respect people for decent behavior ,n d men who r speaking in favour of women r surely satiromaniacs .And last but not d list, i fully understand d gist what d author has tried to convey , i m talking about slightly larger picture ,after a few year we men ll need empowerment or wd b on verge of extinction ,first dalit movement n now womania movement ,,,,U cant imagine what kind of life a lower middle forward class man is living, i m not talking about privileged class .N dude i hv never been interested in getting laid n never ll b…………….

    1. Anushka Kulshreshtha

      Dude..you are an A#####E!!
      I hate to use such strong words in public.
      Alibi have to say is go and commit suicide.
      You don’t deserve to live here . Don’t comment on something you have no idea about and make a fool of yourself.
      You can never imagine what a women goes through. And people like you add to her worries.
      I am really sad for your family, specially your mother , because she had a son like you.
      Now instead of showing off your pea sIze brain , the least you could do is apologise . And don’t comment on this forum with these type of views again.

    2. karishmak.

      Sachin Kumar.. AAP DUDE HO.. Many of us are also from middle class families.. You respect women but they are not ‘respectable anymore’? We are talking of women here. not of women indulging in substance abuse or ‘late night outings’ ( which is somehow improper according to you ). If you have to say anything, go speak to those rapists and rapists-in-making (like yourself) on the prowl. The author was merely talking about taboo related to menstruation. God Bless India!

  8. anand

    I seriously never understood this idea of ‘shame’ around the menstruation and changes like that…

  9. Nida

    well written Nidhi. We hardly find this issues being reported in main stream media…

    and Sachin it would be better if just keep quiet, Its better not to speak when you are not aware of it.

  10. Akshay Thakre

    Sachin Kumar This is a place for literate people and not for people with negative IQ, who cannot even spell. So my friend, like I said earlier: Slip into something more comfortable like a coma.

  11. sachin kumar

    i can reply all ur queries wd reasons, why these things r kept secret !,why dey r not allowed to enter kitchen or participate in a ritual, n i can tell u biological aspect of d matter too but of no avail u people r prejudiced , i can understand d puberty problems of a women but no body is responsible for it ,its nature,nature always keep balance on gifts ,if u have got certain gift by god then u shd also accept some pain also, although effort of author is praiseworthy i m not denying dat,,i appreciate her concern regarding underprivileged n indigent women ,n i appreciate d work of ngos working for the cause . , i have raised qs on only making it public n talking it openly ,even we cant see d ads being telecast on tv depicting girls using these napkins , we have to go to bathroom or sing a song to avoid embarrassment while watching shows on tv wd family ………. male member cant b open to that extent wd dere family members.i m opposed to d manner in which parents n men r being demonized by women as if for every problem of modern women parents or men were responsible.

  12. sachin kumar

    i can understand ur wisdom n literacy level : ur statements r enough to reveal ur qualification ;vidya adati vinayam ,vinayam dadati patratam patratwadwanmapnoti dhana dharmah tatah sukham///n i m not being paid or writing an article to edit my spelling its off d cuff writing not a pensive literature………..

  13. sachin kumar

    @anushka perhaps i havnt abused anyone personally n u r abusing me publically , r u representative of some women party or have u been given some license to fight in favor of whole women community ,why dont u seek any legal recourse or stop me from expressing my opinion ,n by d way we have d right to express ourselves ,its unconstitutional to prohibit some one to express his views ,if u dont agree wd me just avoid it .consult article 19 of indian constitution n my words r not defamatory or directed towards a single person…………………

  14. sachin kumar

    Now analyse the words i said n analyse other statements made against me, whose words r defamatory? ,i havent abused any person just i expressed my opinion which was impersonal ,i m talking to u women do u abuse ur brothers like this on expressing certain contradictory views ,u hate me n i m a man it means u people hate men.u told men rapist i told certain woman who r misusing dere freedom n its true but u people transcended all d boundaries of decency ,was i wrong about women ,think about it n ask yourself without being predisposed to any preconceived notions.

  15. nidhi

    itz so true..
    i knw hw it feels wn ur nt alwd to entr templs.kitchen..u cant touch ny plant and so many thngs.. i hd seen girls gtn pissed off wd this rituals. Y ..itz wd us.. a womn gvs a nw lyf ..and c is being treated lyk dis..

  16. SadhoRam

    Alright the boys, we have our savior here – lets all surrender ourselves to the Sachin Kumar ‘G’. Kahaan they abhi tak aap, maharaaj? Badi der kardi hum ‘mardo’ ki awaaz uthaane me. Chalo koi na, der aaye, durust aaye!

    1. karishmak.

      LOL.. Rightly said.

  17. Amit Singh

    Sachin kumar you are one hell of an scumbag a prude who loves to have one night stand but at the end of the day wants a virgin wife the real challenge today we face is kicking a**** of people like you

  18. sachin kumar

    Nidhi ji ,u have mentioned dat during dis time women feel irritation n sexually aroused n its a biological fact people cant deny it however they may pretend, we r all aware of d ugly truth,, why do we go to d temple we need d purity of body n thought do u go to temple without having a bath ,we go to the temple for mental peace ,if any thing that disturb our concentration do u deem ur self fit during those days ,people during the cycle remain disturbed,u can better understand ,n same thing holds good for rituals ,purity of body n thought is necessary before entering the temple ,certain plants r considered to b sacred like tulsi its our culture,n if we forget our culture we ll lose our identity ,culture is a trait which is followed by a group of people its our symbol of recognition ,u know kitchen is considered to b as sacred as temple ,u know ,the substance is a waste n toxic product if by mistake u touch d eatables den it can b harmful ,every body in india is not using lifeboy plus , n d same rule follows in case of kitchen .Its belief that makes a nonliving stone god we have faith in it n this faith gives us peace ,likewise certain plants r considered adorable we wont like to touch it wd disturbed mind .Its happening cuz we dont want to accept any prevalent rule we just want to overturn the rules our parents have been following but its repercussion is devastating ,,perhaps its becoming more didactic , u people r highly educated ,u can consult some books on spirituality , i m sure u ll find ur answer ,i m unable to tell u all d necessary things ………..

    1. Deepti Tandon

      I would place my individuality over ideological constructs of culture any day.
      Also, are you trying to say that poor people who suppose have not had bath for a month are deemed unfit to enter temples and embrace God? If yes, then wake up, this is the ugly truth. Kthanksbye!

  19. sachin kumar

    Now, no need to reply other persons , i can understand dere cognition level n dere statements revealed who dey r so its over from my side no further argument,social media has proved to b a boon but also its a bane cuz of dese kind of persons ,,when a monkey gets a coconut result can b imagined.And i was just testing which kind of people lives in our great India………….our people r so decent that dey dont even think before casting slur on really big n respectable person ,then a common man like me expects nothing from dese people………..

    1. Pratik Mantri

      Mr Sachin Kumar,
      It gives me immense pleasure to say that you are nothing more than an attention seeking moron, sad, lonely, intellectually bankrupt individual. Pardon me If have said less. Your view reflects your hypocrisy and chauvinism towards women.

  20. nidhi

    Thanks a lot for your kind decision.. 🙂 now don’t spoil this space any further if you are the MAN OF YOUR WORDS!!

    1. Mitul

      Had this pig, Sachin Kumar, been a TRUE MAN, he wouldn’t have said the above things..

  21. Poonam

    Look Folks stop throwing abuses at each other and UNDERSTAND the FACTS.
    Women go through Hell during these days excruciating pain, discomfort, nausea etc. etc.
    ERAS ago our ELDERS realised this and to make the women’s lives easier would ask them to rest and not do any work like cooking food, washing clothes, filling water from the wells, not to go to the temple but rest instead, etc. etc.
    But over the eras, centuries, decades , years these things simply became LAWS by mouth to mouth and the true meaning , value, facts were lost.
    SO Please do not feel offended ,
    It Simply Means to give WOMEN AS MUCH REST AS POSSIBLE during these DAYS.
    Stop fighting and be mature,”THESE DAYS” are really terrible, but those who want to go to the temple or want to do anything auspicious , please do it nobody will stop you just dont tell anyone.

    THE QUESTION HERE IS to EDUCATE the MASSES about the TRUE fact and that is “REST” during these days.

  22. Ayushi Sareen

    MENSTRUATION BLOOD IS NOT HARMFUL AND TOXIC. ITS VERY MUCH CLEAN AND PURE. IT HAS BEEN SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN I am deeply ashamed by the primitive, narrow thinking of the nation. When the nation and youth of India can listen to vulgar and explicit songs by Honey Singh, or enjoy the item songs, then why can’t they accept a general talk about menstruation. I am ashamed at the misogynist nature of the men.

  23. wendy

    Thanks for your great article. With our work (in Australia, http://www.rad-pads.com ) we are constantly speaking with women and families about the importance of education and the benefits of being a woman and menstruation. Yes, it has been a ‘secret’ thing in so many areas of the world which can do untold damage to a woman’s confidence and emotional development. It is great to continue the dialogue about important issues such as this.

  24. Ram Krishna

    The idea behind this article is to create,sensitize and build an opinion about the social ostracisation subjected to poor girls due to menstruation. These angels could have otherwise reached the peak of their productivity…….alas their wings are clipped and they keep trailing behind the male lot in terms of economic independence. so guys its time to work for this cause and create an idle environment of well- empowered women!!!!!!

  25. Ritika

    I couldn’t resist but comment. It is understandable that women “ages” ago were barred from doing certain chores but it was majorly because of use of cloth and other not-so-dependable ways to soak bleeding. It may disgust male counterpart but since we are all about talking it all out here,it is the fact. Women earlier used cloth,cotton etc etc which had chances of leaking and could spread the infection;it was because of this that women were asked to stay put,wash their own clothes etc but but the fact that they were made to eat separately,(not work:fine) but not enter the kitchen etc. is very amusing and degrading.
    Then again, one shouldn’t forget the natural human hesitance that comes along with anything related to private or sexual process. Women had to live in veil and menses definitely aroused a lot more awkwardness amongst people. sadly, this is still very much present today and this very awkwardness is the issue we need to work upon rather than protesting to get women in the temple straightaway.
    I am a modern women but unbiased outlook on old practices, rarely-but-yes-at-times makes sense. its the further destortion which is the problem. these practices were not “started” to belittle women,but later used to do so. But they stand negated today due to quality of pads we have now. women feel secure,so should men! Interpret things with open mind,not everyone is correct likewise not every one is wrong.
    And these practices definitely need to be challenged now but we need to handle it all sensitively otherwise our society will yield a lot of men like sachin kumar!

  26. karishmak.

    Today Sachin ‘Ji’ will go to the mandir and crack some coconuts because so many people responded to him, and so many girls at that! Issi din ka intezaar tha.. 🙂

  27. ANKUR GOSWAMI

    @Sachin- “Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.” – Mark Twain

  28. impromptusinger

    Government school girls are being provided sanitary pads at school for free. Initially I was very happy about this, but I got to know later from a teacher there that the girls aren’t taught how to use these as this is the first time they are using pads, even the older girls. These branded pads which the girls may not be able to afford once they leave school or when the schools are shut for vacations creates a very wicked situation. You get them used to it and then you leave suddenly. Also, because the young girls are ignorant about it’s use and disposal, they often dispose it off anywhere.

    The Govt. is apparently spending so much money on Women/Child care and Health but it seems like a sham!
    I’m still glad that my parents openly discussed and discuss menstruation including my dad and brother. But I have grown up in different environments, some of my friends still don’t even mention periods while most of my friends talk about it like any other bodily function even using the affectionate word ‘Chum’ to describe it.

    I also wish more women would have the option of using tampons as it is very helpful for people who have hectic jobs or heavy periods. I wish my mother had told me about them, because now I often forget that I’m chumming while I use tampon. I feel a lot more liberated. But In our heads, we still think that a tampon can break your hymen. What most girls forget is that in the 21st century, with all the physical activity we get in our childhood, the hymen may have already broken off and left us for good. Not that it matters, but that’s the reason women only use the bad, even though a tampon costs the same as a good quality pad and is more hygienic.

  29. Nupur Dogra

    people like sachin kumar are true example of insecure men who have forever been the prime reason of oppression faced by women.
    u say women are sexually aroused during that period of month so they should not enter temples…has any one ever asked u or any man before entering the temple that if u masturbated or had sex that day or the previous hour? once a man blinked at me while standing in the que in a temple…wasnt he aroused?? nobody asked him to stay out of the temple..
    like u said people go to temple to find peace of mind…and u said women are disturbed at that point of time…sir, u just gave us women another reason to go to temple and set right our disturbed minds as u call it. u come across as a religious person. than u shud agree that god created us all….then y do u think god will be offended by one of his own inventions??
    in one of the above comment by poonam it is rightly explained y these so called rules or traditons as u call them were devised. but to understand that one needs an open mind which u clearly seem to lack.
    Now, that i have openly used words like masturbation and sex also due to me once a focused man was aroused in a temple…also i happen to live a modern life….i must have lost all ur respect..but wait who needs a respect or approval from a man like u, who cannot take a scientific health based discussion, who is too insecure to beleive that their can be a peacefull equal coexistence of the two sexes. women like me dont live to please men like u ..

    lakeer pe chalne waale hameshaa fakeer the , hai or rahengay…or andhe fakiron k lie main jeeena nahin chorungi !!!

    bhagwaan aapko sadhbudhi de
    GET WELL SOON …
    Aaj ki besharm larki.. 🙂

  30. nidhi

    Very well said nupur dogra.

    1. Nupur Dogra

      thank u nidhi 🙂
      also i want to add one more information..
      the theory of impurity in our culture came up to stop any sexual intercourse between husband and wife.
      in the Garud puraan it is written and explained in great detail that in case of sexual intercourse during mensuration there are chances that the child if conceived may have some deformities or abnormalities.

      but to stop a man a theory or a written texts insufficient. so the FEAR of getting polluted by the touch of women at that time was insighted.

      so, dear followers please understand ur culture before blindly following it.

  31. Yatin

    I think education is the answer to it ,

    I mean its really important for a girl . Cause even i used to wonder about these pad advertisements till i finally got to study about it my Xth standard.

    They were a big mystery.And I used why might girls should these.

    So yeah education is the answer ,, in whatever way it is must.be achieved .And its a natural process so one should never disregard it as something evil.
    i completely agree with the author , that yeah this is a serous issue with today’s society.

    Masturbation , mensuration is all the same , and both are necessary for good health physically & mentally . And by no means if one is educated by it then they are indecent in any way.

    .

    However sachin ,

    I know that being born a general male guy in a middle class family ,there are no perks. You always feel a sense of hatred towards girls , dailts, sc/st or whoever so who get a sense of favoritism in day to day scenarios.

    Even i don’t like at times , and its irritating .But everything happens for a reason.

    And the reason is because from generations our middle class male forefathers got those favors in their life.We are just balancing the scales.

    What today’s general male guy is experiencing is only the repercussions of his own actions.So you should not complain.

    Whatever you wrote if full non sense & should grow up.

    if u say u are a man , then be a Man , don’t be a spoil sport.Its life

    shit happens , just flush it.

  32. Ranvijay

    Why do we allow anyone in the first place to decide that whether or not a girls is pure, who has given permission to anyone for that matter, to decide that a girl will not enter a temple or a kitchen during her menstruation cycle, if any god seeks not to allow a girl to enter a temple during menstruation, then I would like to abuse that god in his very temple, because my minds seeks it.
    P.s. sachin no one wants to know what you believe
    And stop teaching people about the culture and tradition that blames Chinese food instead of the rapists who did it.

  33. sachin kumar

    even i dont look at women to discomfort her , ,i cant see women crying as involuntarily my eyes well up,,even in excruciating physical or emotional pain i dont feel like crying ,most of d time i helped women but when dey really need it yes i dont like to take dem to restaurants ,malls n dats my Achilles hill n for what dey hate me ,i dont serve tea or cofee to a women i dont pamper dem but i have returned half way to my residence approx half kilometer on foot to bring medicine for a classmate after 10 pm in d night,i might have not got someones assignment photocopied as she can do it herself ,even if i do it i wd b labelled sth else by them only but i have carried her luggage when she was unable to carry it .this is not a fiction dis is a true story i might not have cooperated a women in her intimate moment thinking d repercussion of d same but i had been always dere to cooperate in her plaintive moment.i have been proud enough to not get d cofee or tea for a classmate but i have collected her footwear from a hotel n kept it in her bag n got her luggage secured ..We r not demons but look how u treat us ,u treat us like untouchables ,we cant sit beside a women ,if u say why i cant seat here dey ll tell u ,u r sitting here to look at me ,there r lots of stories but i m not here to discuss my misery ,i just want to say if u want to b treated equally then why dont u treat men as equals ,when u have to take some advantage u become woman n when its normal u want to b treated equally why dis ambivalence !please dont make me open about d treatment meted out by women on us for no reasons or no fault ,above i was just expressing my opinion if u dont like no one can b forced n its my personal opinion it has not been taken from any source as i cant google sources for these things it doesnt become me n yes sources r always contradictory so believe in ur beliefs its a free n democratic country no one can impose anything on u , i have nothing to say any further sorry for breaking my promise u people have abused me a lot i can sustain some more

  34. Happy Nagashetti

    Ok heres a simple way to make men like Sachin Kumar understand one of the major problems of mesuration, the menstural Cramps.
    Just once a month kick him hard in the balls !!!

  35. Neha Raman

    I would like to firstly appreciate the author for bringing up this topic and i totally understand what she means in context to discussing/talking about the menstrual cycle. I’ve personally experienced the kind of Giggles/grins and dirty comments guys make about periods during my school days. this is only because they lack the knowledge of how painful it is to experience the cramps and pains for 4-5 days every month. And i also have experienced a lot hesitation in expressing the reality. when i was in school, a friend of mine once started experiencing cramps and terrible pain in the abdomen but when asked by the guy friends, she said “I have a stomach problem”. It’s not embarrassing for the girls because it’s something “Secretive” or “DIRTY”. they can’t share it because they fear they’ll be subject to unnecessary commentary. what is required here is to make people understand that this isn’t something to be hidden or be ashamed off. when men can be proud of their manhood why do women need to hide things about their womanhood?

  36. Lizzy

    You just spoke my mind, You have voiced each one of the problems associated with them. Kudos.

  37. gargi bhardwaj

    Ms. Khurana…kudos to you for raising such a topic which is considered to be a taboo in our society. I have quite closely observed the entire scenario in rural areas as I am linked to one such place. But, i am quite lucky as my parents specially my dad is very broad minded and understands the age I am going through. Blissfully the situation is not that worst in villages as it was 20-25 years ago.

  38. justnehajha

    Not just in villages, I think there is a lot of useless tradition related to periods in the entire country. I don’t understand this concept of ‘impurity’ which periods is regarded to be taking! What the hell does it mean? If your daughter doesn’t have it, u get worried; when she has, u get the notion of her being impure and an added tension coming in! I remember the way I reacted when I first got my periods. My mom began talking how pregnancy can be a dangerous thing from now on! It made me feel dirty. I guess, this dirtiness is associated with the fact that Indian society hates anything sexual! Onset of periods means hormones beginning to work upon sexual arousal and desires. That pinches everybody in our culture!

  39. Rajan Kalra

    Awesome post…

    Every man should read this…

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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