Yes,I bleed.I bleed for 5 days of the month.Oh god!Did I say that loud?
That was supposed to be the biggest secret of our times.
Congratulations for learning about a deep dark secret of mankind.Yes,offcourse it is a secret.It is a secret wrapped in black polythenes,named as “special workshop for girls in school”,whispered in someone’s ears and disguised as headache for taking a sick leave.
Definitely there are behavioral and perception changes about menstrual hygiene occurring in communities but the root cause is intact.The root cause remains that it our “deep dark red secret”. This is the reason that there are superstitions attached with it which are believed and promoted by women themselves.Even in these times,girls have leave to school,being shamed and stigmatized. We have made it sort of abnormality occurring in women.This persist in all classes.Yes,even in our homes.But how will we know that when we don’t even talk about it.And it is hidden from men as if men live in a parallel world where they cannot know all this.
If all this is the reality,how can we proceed to the areas of menstrual hygiene,health and accessibility
Menstrual hygiene is still a luxury in our country.Sanitary napkins that advertise about the comfort of women are actually not affordable to women everywhere.We are living in our limited information zones when we think women can afford these napkins.There is extraordinary work of NGO’s like Goonj for who make clean cloth available to women who cannot afford sanitary napkins.Also,the current campaign on not taxing the sanitary napkins is very important. But how can you make the governments do something which is not talked about as a natural and normal process.
We need to stop using code words for menstrual cycle.It is not a national secret that has to be protected from suspicious agents. It is a natural and biological process that happens to girls.And yes,it is physically and mentally painful.It does not make women superheroes that they bear it,nor does it make them subject to sympathy.A little understanding and freedom to talk about it would be the only support needed.Men need to be part of this dialogue.Including them will help normalize the discussion.We have a lot of small steps like these to take when we talk about menstrual hygiene.
P.S Apart from the females around,thank you to my father,supportive male friends and colleagues who have talked about menstruation with me.