The first period can be scary and confusing. But coupled with deep-seated taboos around menstrual impurity, it can become a harrowing experience. Four women of different ages from rural Uttar Pradesh share their experiences of menstruation and the stigma. These experiences surprisingly are very similar to the ones shared by the women of urban India too. “After my first period, all my grandmother said was, ‘You are a woman from today onwards. During your ‘days’, your body is impure.’ I was scared that I was down with some cancer,” says Sangeeta Rane, VV’s Communication coordinator.
What is interesting is that all of them seem to have internalised these period myths to a greater or lesser degree. They have unquestioningly accepted that they can’t be part of auspicious religious rites or cook.
Studies show that nearly 82% of Indian girls are not aware of menstruation till they reach menarche. For most, the source of information comes from their mothers. The age-old superstitions about period thus continue unchallenged. This is especially significant as the present government has raised an objection to the existing sex education curriculum for schools. 10% girls in India even believe that menstruation is actually a disease! 23% school going girls drop out once they start menstruating.
There is an urgent need to bring conversations about menstruation with all its associated silence, stigma and myths out in the open.
Join us as we take on menstrual myths and stigma in our Twitter chat on December 20 between 1 and 2 pm. Together we will dismantle taboos around menstruation, to free women from the society’s cultural confinement.