“I am down with fever/cold/viral” a commonly found and accepted one-liner said by one, irrespective of gender. However, if we remove the medical condition and limit to “I am down”, is it an acceptable one-liner? The answer will be NO. There is no dearth to it that in itself is a medical condition, and suffered by a female, when she reaches her puberty. But she is stuffed with notions, thoughts and words, of it being shameful, dirty or rather say to the extent pervert to talk about it, apologetically can only WHISPER, except to none but her mother, sister, and girls as friends or to a female doctor. Till date, it is not a topic of reference across dinner table as sheer stigma is attached to it largely, no matter to what background/strata one belongs to.
Awfully, the conjecture encircles this medical condition and talk happens between eyes when any female family member takes a monthly plunge. Unfortunately or fortunately the power of procreation, which a female has, the condition in sight is directly linked to her conceived stage but she is liberated only and after living her around 45 plus years and feting menopause.
To dam the flow or bleeding, females have been using many indigenous or affordable methods be it scraps of cloth, dry leaves, or handy newspapers. As statistic reveals, 6 out of 10 women have access to hygienic methods of protection during their menstrual cycle, the rest. These handful and unsafe methods, further amplified with circumstances of privacy issues, access to water and toilets make them all the more vulnerable to infections and also to face monthly hardships in managing their periods.
Further, unlimited taboos cements menstruating female during her crampy five days, say across pan India, she is not allowed to visit temple, enter kitchen, touch pickle, wash her hair for couple of days or lie/share bed with her husband, to the extent that her set of utensils in which she is served food are isolated because she is untouchable or better correlated impure. She is forced to live in isolation. These idiosyncrasies are being followed relentlessly, as by doing it people envisage that God will not be annoyed and bless them in all humbleness. But, by following all this, what is one achieving? It is still not proved logically. It is just being followed because it has to be followed, though by following you follow nothing but old followed beliefs.
Menstruation is neither a communicable nor a non-communicable ailment. It is very much part of female anatomy. It is simply the regular discharge of blood and mucosal tissues through the vagina, which happens post the shedding of the endometrium – the lining of the uterus. Mensuration evolved with the birth of Eve then why all the ignominy and what for? It is high time now that efforts should be invested in swapping the figure. Further, inculcating an understanding and wiping all misconceptions in girls who are at an interface of reaching menarche.
The Government should also build a resilience and bring a policy change that sanitary napkins are available at subsidized rates at fair price stores for women who cannot afford. In addition, dispensing machines should also be installed at Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) dispensaries and hospitals as more and more women can be benefitted by it.