This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Garima Kushwaha. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

What We Want Is A Bleeding Girl

More from Garima Kushwaha

By Garima Kushwaha:

A bleeding bride and a bleeding daughter-in-law is what everyone wants – a girl who has been bleeding month after month, for years. It is not uncommon to hear about cases of divorce on the basis of the infertility of the female partner in a relationship, discarding her as ‘useless’.

She is useful and worth marrying only if she is fertile and capable of bearing kids. Many girls in our society are not just discriminated against based on caste and race, but also on the basis of whether they are bleeding or not. It is in fact a bigger concern than caste/creed that many girls are burdened with. This problem starts surfacing only after two individuals commit to each other in front of the whole world and it is not just the society at large but often husbands themselves who start blaming women for not being able to conceive children.

If girls have period problems or irregular menstrual cycles, it is considered as an act of offence if not disclosed before marriage. Note that in the very same world, talking about periods is not socially accepted.

menstrual taboo india

If it is true that a woman is complete only when she is a mother then why should I hide when I bleed every month? Why do I feel ashamed or dirty when my body is gearing itself towards becoming a mother? If bearing a child is much desired, then why don’t the prospective grooms and his families ask about menstruation cycle histories instead of one’s biodata/educational qualifications? Maybe, women should present how ‘well’ they menstruate or provide their gynaecology reports as a proof of their fertility! It is ironic that even girls wait for their periods to come every month on time but don’t/can’t talk about it. Instead, girls should be proud and happy that they are ‘complete individuals’ in conformance to societal standards.

I am sad to see that our culture has made women’s fertility her identity. You meet a middle-aged woman and a gentle conversation pretty much always ends up in one asking about motherhood and how many kids she has. If she responds saying she has none, an awkward silence/vibe prevails. A professionally successful woman who has achieved a great rewarding career but who has no kids is often shunned, assuming that her success came at the expense of her motherhood.

However, the ones who can balance both motherhood and a professional career are like walking gods amongst us. This is a wrong parameter with which we gauge women in our society. Is motherhood only about bearing kids? I believe that we were mothers when we cried and mourned for the kids who died in the terrorist attack in Pakistan; we were mothers when we helped a child who fell down while running in the park; we are mothers when we take our dog out every day for a walk.

Being a mother is providing unconditional love and it can be done in many ways. We forget that Mother Teresa did not have her own kids but her life is still considered a successful life and indeed we still call her ‘Mother’. Then why do we still believe that girls are born to reproduce and that none of their other achievements can become their identity towards proving that they lead successful lives?

We need to understand that the taboo associated with menstruation is not just about openly talking about it, but also about how it is imposed as a prerequisite necessity for girls. It is an issue of social change in a culture where fertility is much highly valued and emphasised than actually required. It cannot only lead to chronic depression in women but also strain their marital relationships and even relationships with their families, which is equally emotionally devastating.

Menstruation, in fact, is a kind of paradoxical concept that is desired so much in our society for various reasons, but is also recognised as a shameful topic to talk about. On one hand, we as a society want women to menstruate for the sake of motherhood and on the other, we shun them when they are menstruating and stop them from entering the kitchen and treat them as untouchables. So as a society, we should solve this conundrum of menstruation first and deal with all its related myths and perspectives after. Sane or bane? First decide and then hide.

This post was originally published here on Menstrupedia.
You must be to comment.
  1. Komal Pawar

    Brilliant piece of writing! Left me teary-eyed indeed. Kudos!!!

  2. Kirti Jha

    I felt dat dis peice of article was heart touching n a very awesome article which is worth reading……

  3. Ra’s al Ghul

    >She is useful and worth marrying only if she is fertile and capable of bearing kids.

    A man is useful and worth marrying only if he is ‘well-settled’

    >I am sad to see that our culture has made women’s fertility her identity.

    I am sad to see that our culture has made the size of a man’s bank account his identity.

    1. Raddaya

      Ra’s- I agree that gender equality is a double-edged sword, but you can’t just ignore one in favour of the other, whichever way you’re doing it. This article is written about a specific topic, there’ll be a separate space for talking about men’s rights.

      P.S Nice username.

    2. Srishti Singh

      What she is trying to convey here is the taboo. Not the norm. Imagine if you have a daughter, you yourself would not like to see her get settled with a man who cannot suffice the entire family, seeing that in India women are stopped from working after they get married you obviously the money comes in picture.

      The writer is just saying that you expect that a girl should be ‘fertile’ and stuff and on the same time if any girl asks you get her a sanitary napkin, you will find yourself in an awkward position, that’s it. Just like how in India people don’t talk about sex, but every minute, 10 kids take birth. Just like how you want a fertile wife but will never ask her anything about her periods. All she is talking about here is TABOO involved.

  4. The Joker

    Nicely written. I would like to see more write-ups on this subject.

  5. Rachna Rane

    We discuss these topics at home without any shame or uncomfort.
    My Grandfather had then told me that earlier there was no continuous water supply as we have it now, so it was very difficult to wash those clothes… Also there were no sanitary napkins. So hygiene use to be a problem.
    Also, unlike now, women used to wash clothes, do the house cleaning themselves and not bai also cooking used to be on stove, which needed lots of physical hard work.
    Thus, so that the females in the house should get proper rest during menstruation they were not allowed to enter kitchen, which was the only job women did at that time…..

    1. Madhura Abhani

      I am totally agreed with u Rachana. Due to heavy flow we need rest in these days that is the reason they were not allowed to enter in kitchen n all other stuff like same. Now a days we are taking this things wrongly. I am not saying it’s must be ur identity but it’s good for our health only.

  6. niharika

    very nicely written………..we shud hv to think about this social and mental problem of our society……

  7. Deeksha Dubey

    This repulsion towards periods shows the hypocrisy of the Indian society. On the one hand it is so significant and on the other it is regarded as a dirty thing.

  8. sanhita Das

    True fact.and its worth reading :’)

    1. rahul

      True fact is dat in our society only women tortured women on dis case maximum mother in laws takes action firstly a women learn to respect a new person in home

  9. ABs

    A man’s impotence has also led to many divorces, but who am I kidding? That is irrelevant, right? What nonsense. A man’s bank account, his virility are the biggest factors in arranged marriages. It is not only the Women who are suffering here.

  10. SOORYANAARAAYANAH HARI

    The subject of MENSTRUATION is given the most important status in our SANAATHANA DHARMA AND THE PRIME PLACE OF PRDIE IN BRIHAD JATAKA, which deals with Jyothishya Shastra or Astrology. Going through this article made me conclude that the author is prejudiced, has little or no deep knowledge on the subject and wanting to cast aspersions on our time tested practises without applying any scientific thought, only for some cheap publicity. I have personally complied the great wisdom and approach of our ancient maharishis and it runs to tens of pages of practical wisdom. The author may approach me for any help in this matter, BUT WITHOUT MALICE AND PREJUDICE.

  11. SARIKA

    Awesome Topic… Very True
    Its Very pity that in this century still Women is judged on the basis of her menstrual condition..
    There are some cases where the men have problems but still insists the women to go for check ups.
    Shame on such systems.

  12. Anamika

    Kudos to the concept generator and the author as well. I am pretty much amazed at the content and ideas of the website.. Love the audacious work.

  13. Sneha

    nicely written about something that still isn’t spoken about. Well done.
    It is unfortunate that some people are writing negative reviews, women too. It is something you cannot ignore. I know people who have suffered from such discrimination. I have been through this myself.
    Thank you for talking about mensturation, infertility and problems that follow it.

  14. Durga

    It’s sad that the focus in a marriage shifts completely on the woman. The high regard given to a mother in our culture should not make motherhood the sole purpose of a woman’s life. Well written! 🙂

  15. Teresa

    Really sad that what is a natural part of life is thought to be dirty, I am fortunate to be In a country that respects us as individuals, equals, spending your life with a partner you love and respect rather than be forced into marriage because of wealth , families etc.

  16. Shubhi Jindal

    Remarkably written…n true to the core! Beautifully depicts double standards of our society..!

  17. Sudarshan Sharma

    7 out of 10 girls in villages in India dropout from education once they enter the puberty age after feeling depressed…80% girls in villages dont use proper sanitary pads as there is no awareness about hygiene.. These data come from UNICEF. It is shocking and nobody talks about it because it is social taboo to talk about it …Everybody wants a girl to be a mother but that girl is considered untouchable during menstruation.

  18. Anindita Adhikary

    Such a mature and brilliant writing…. I feel every girl should read this and should realize that they are the blessings for the mankind…. thank u for let us give the scope to read such issues

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)’.

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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.”

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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.

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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
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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