Despite Girls Being Shamed, Why Aren’t Schools Talking About Menstrual Hygiene?

Posted by Debkanya Basu in #IAmNotDown
April 30, 2017
This story is a part of Youth Ki Awaaz’s campaign #IAmNotDown to spread awareness on menstrual hygiene and start a conversation on how sanitary pads can be made more affordable. If you have an opinion on how we can improve access to menstrual hygiene products, write to us here.

The bloodshed every month that a woman goes through isn’t a very pleasant thing. When we come across posts in social media, that reads “how we wish mother nature could just let us know, Congrats! you are not pregnant”, we immediately feel how beautiful that would be.

Menstruation comes to every woman every month, which is associated with terrible cramps, pains all over the body, PMSing and a cranky mood for few days. It is simply a sign of a healthy body and surely an indicator that a woman is not pregnant.

But Indian society doesn’t take it as simply as it is. Over years menstruation has created a taboo in the society. It is a hush-hush topic, and women are expected to not talk openly about it. There has been a ritual of buying sanitary napkins wrapped in a black polythene, it’s a shame to let others see your sanitary napkin. The problem in the society is never questioning why. We never ask what is wrong with it. And hence the taboo continues.

This taboo itself has led to improper menstrual hygiene, which leads to infections in menstruating women. A country with such a large menstruating population, it’s shocking to digest that less than one-fourth of this population have access to sanitary napkins. Women do not talk about it freely even at homes. They don’t talk about different problems while they are menstruating. All they know is women are not allowed to enter a temple while they are menstruating. Nobody has questioned why!

Lack of awareness is another major cause of poor menstrual health. India is a country with numerous villages. These are the places where the government should take initiative to bring in teachers and doctors to impart awareness about menstrual hygiene to women even before they start menstruating. The early steps would help the women understand periods aren’t something to shy away. It’s something very natural. They should be guided about safe and hygienic menstrual habits. These are the people who need to have access to sanitary napkins.

The other problem is, in rural areas that are a little well off, women are aware of the sanitary napkin’s existence. But what prevents the access is the cost of sanitary napkins which they cannot afford. Our government expends millions of rupees for not-so-necessary things. It’s high time sanitary napkins are made tax-free, making it accessible to all. The money that is spent in making worthless statues, can definitely be used to maintaining a country’s hygiene.

Standing in the 21st century, it’s a shame that schools – both government and private aren’t imparting proper education on this subject. When in school, almost every girl who has started her periods in her school, has been subjected to some sort of shaming, making it even shameful for the girl to talk about it. There are some schools where only girl students are imparted menstrual education. But this a cause for concern. Guys grow up having misconceptions about the subject, resulting in immature behaviour while dealing with this. If reproduction is something both boys and girls need to be taught, so is menstruation: it is just a normal life process that keeps human life going.

Instead of focusing on all sorts of unnecessary things, it’s high time we free ourselves from the taboo and talk about periods.

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