Whether we admit it or not, menstruation has always been a hush-hush matter in India. Starting from the family members to one’s friends and other acquaintances, a girl is not supposed to talk about menstruation because it’s against the norms of the society. But who sets these norms?
If we observe carefully, most of the natural processes related to the human body are never to be talked about in the public, one of them being menstruation. Interestingly, in Assam, the occasion when a girl menstruates for the first time, is celebrated with great pomp and show. The parents of the girl themselves invite their kith and kin to celebrate the fact that their daughter has ‘blossomed’ in what we may call, a minor version of a marriage, where the girl is showcased almost like a minor bride. Celebrating is fine, but placing the girl as nothing but a showpiece to deliver a clandestine message to the world that ‘my daughter is ready to get married and produce babies’ is where it all goes wrong.
What about the atrocities in the name of ‘rules’ that fall upon the girl when she first menstruates? The first shock for the girl that she is painfully bleeding is not enough, she is separated from her loved ones (the one who can actually counsel her), instructed to stay in a separate room on the floor and asked to live only on fruits for three consecutive days. Just imagine the kind of trauma that is actually thrown upon her just for a natural process. The days where she, in reality, needed love and counselling, she needed a comfortable bed and hefty food for her healthy well-being, what she is thrust upon is a fake reality to make her feel like a piece of dirt.
Some ‘guardians’ of the society advocate that these practices are performed for hygienic purposes. But don’t you think hygiene can be achieved in other ways with so much machinery in the current times? Don’t you think mental hygiene for the girl to grow and mature in a sane environment is also necessary?
Then again, you will find girls who point out and shame girls who talk about menstruation. In fact, a huge majority of shaming comes from the womenfolk who teach their daughters to keep mum and shy away when it comes to talking about menstruation.
In fact, most of us don’t realise that it is equally important for the boys to be educated about the process of menstruation, rather than concealing the facts from them.
Thankfully I didn’t have to go through these ill practices because of my progressive parents. But watching these practices still prevailing in my own society boils my blood and makes me speak out against them. But alas, the one who speaks against the age-old norms of the society becomes the culprit. Still, there are a few instances where my words influenced towards a change.
I hope the readers and my acquaintances speak out against these ill practices, in their own way, that are still prevailing in some parts of the society.