There are various social taboos which have no meaning in the 21st century and one such taboo is menstruation, which needs to be discussed openly.
Often, girls are made to believe that if they are on their periods they have to stay indoors and keep it a secret. This thinking has been sowed in the minds of girls from a very tender age. Even my grandmother used to speak in a very slow voice, “don’t say you are on periods to anyone”, as if I have committed some crime.
Why is there so much hush and shush? In all this, the problem which a girl or a woman faces during menstruation is never discussed. It is funny how in a shop where we buy medicines or other stuff is given openly, a packet of sanitary napkin is wrapped in black polythene, like a secret. Furthermore, a woman needs to look for excuses to tell people rather than simply admitting to being on her period. I believe it is high time we stop making things awkward and deal with it in a mature way without being secretive about it.
In India, a young married couple have created a comic book to share knowledge about the menstruation and problems faced by young girls and women. Isn’t that a great thought? In fact, what is wrong if a girl admits to being on her periods to her male friends? Women should accept the fact that there is nothing wrong with discussing menstruation in public whereas men should be more supportive towards them.
In states like Rajasthan, teachers are ashamed of discussing menstruation openly. Instead of solving a girl’s query regarding periods, she is often sent home to ask her mother about it. Don’t you think that is such a helpless situation for a young girl?
I believe when a girl enters this phase, the first person she approaches is her mother. So technically a mother should be educated to talk about the problems related to menstruation frankly. Such talks will remove the taboo in our so-called conservative society. It is the need of an hour because menstrual healthcare and hygiene is a must. With shame and fear in mind, this cannot be achieved. Also, the refusal to discuss menstruation at all just means a lot of men have no idea what it involves and hence we evade their empathy.
Even in workplace women feel uncomfortable if they are surrounded by men and get no help in case they get their periods. A woman has to keep one pad in purse every time and what if she forgets? Can’t she ask her male colleague to get one sanitary napkin packet for her, just like we ask for other medicines? At times she is in pain but has to work for long hours in the office.
Crux of the matter is that we need to do away with this inherent sense of shame surrounding periods. If a girl or a woman is facing health issues related to periods, she should be able to discuss it like any other health issue and not feel embarrassed. I hope for a better future and positive change in the mindset of people.