These 4 Women Sharing Accounts Of Their 1st Period Is What A Lot Of Us Went Through


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.

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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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