On this Menstrual Hygiene Day, I want to strongly emphasise that menstruation is not a problem but poor menstrual hygiene, lack of access to sanitary pads and poor disposable methods of sanitary waste are.
It is a also not a personal thing anymore. Why? Because when the sanitary waste from a woman’s menstrual cycle is burnt – which is a commonly done these days – the toxins released into the air is breathed in by her and her own family members. It becomes an even more public concern when the sanitary waste lies in the landfills for years without decomposing.
From being just a monthly cycle or visitor to us, the debate around menstruation has indeed changed and come a long way.
Further, menstruation is also not just about the blood that flows between the legs but rather the period cramps that occur during a menstrual cycle. And this cannot be just ignored. For years, we have been told to hush up about our periods or lookout for red stains on our dresses and just act normal. I understand that not all girls suffer from extreme pain or cramps. I fit that category but what about those who do? How can they be expected to just ignore the pain from one of the most naturally occurring body functions? It’s high time we stop shushing women when they all they want to say is, “I’m on my periods!”
True, we have come a long way on this but we still have a long way to go. I think once all the shushing about periods stop, the myths and shame associated with menstruation will also go away. These things are in a direct relationship. Why is it shameful to bleed from a natural body function which says that you are in good health?
The fact is that such stigma and shame has to firstly stop from our homes. When such an understanding occurs at an even larger scale, then hopefully, there can be fewer thoughts around menstrual blood being impure that prevents girls from entering religious places when they are on their periods. This is one thing that most of us have faced, myself included. I was told not to have Holy Communion (a Christian ritual) when I am on my periods because it was not good. An inculcated learning which I broke later on.
I wish that in the future, when menstruation or periods is taught to young girls, it is not centred around shame or impure blood or dirty blood or any sort of social restrictions.
Rather, it should be about flowing free at ease and at one’s own comfort. If a girl is having heavy flow or cramps, she should be able to talk about it openly. Even more importantly, girls should be taught about menstrual hygiene. Because menstrual hygiene should not come at the cost of anything else. The conventional disposable pads that we majorly use now includes chemicals and that’s a fact. Therefore, if you are a new mother or aunt or friend or father talking to your daughter about her periods, suggest her some eco-friendly pads. In this way, you are not only caring for your daughter but also the environment. As a parent, you definitely want the world to exist for your daughter or children to live a long and healthy life.
Presently, with the debate on sustainable menstruation in India, I am sure the shift to eco-friendly pads will come soon due to the rate at which our environment is already sinking under all the existing waste and pollution. But yes, using biodegradable pads or menstrual cups is so much more relevant now. We have some pretty good options too, like Eco Femme cloth pads, Anandi pads, Saathi pads, etc.
Menstruation is my birthright to bleed freely. It is yours too.