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Menstruation Huts: A Period Taboo That Unfortunately, Remains In Use

This post is a part of Periodपाठ, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC to highlight the need for better menstrual hygiene management in India. Click here to find out more.

“Oh my god! Did she just use the word period?”

“Don’t say it loudly”

“What will people think?”

“Sshhh”

Menstruation huts remain a common practice in Nepal.

I used the word period: a biological phenomenon where people with uterus bleed every month. It is no big deal. However, for some people, the word is still a taboo. People cannot fathom that women bleed every month. They consider her to be impure and cursed. Women on their period are considered nothing less as ‘untouchables.’

They are not allowed to enter kitchens, temples and sometimes their own houses. They are the same people who fail to understand the pain that comes along with menstruation.

Chaupadis are raised mud platforms covered with hay. In some communities, when women are on their periods, they are forced to stay in these mud houses. They are not allowed to leave the hut until their periods end and are supposed to stay isolated throughout!

Menstruation huts seem like an extreme step, but they’re simply the tip of the iceberg that affects women’s education, empowerment, literacy, health, and working life in many different societies worldwide.

This is still practised in most of the remote parts of India, Uganda and places as diverse as Bali and Nigeria. This perfectly natural phenomenon is demonised, thus creating real damage to women around the world.

They are forced to use hay or leaves as sanitary napkins. Using unclean products instead of hygienic alternatives leads to fungal infections, ovarian cancer, urinary infections and can even make you vulnerable to infertility.

Nothing is more misogynistic than not supporting women on their periods.

Menstrual Hygiene Matters

Women should be supported while they are on their periods. They should be provided with nutritious food and suitable sanitary napkins. Women are important contributors to this world. God could not be everywhere; hence he made such beautiful creatures like women. Having such an orthodox mindset is nothing but destruction for the future.

Let’s support individuals with a uterus on their periods and help them get through one of the most uncomfortable times of their lives.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
You must be to comment.
  1. Megha Jain

    Periods are natural. Let’s stop stigmatizing it. It is truly said that periods can be really uncomfortable at times especially because of the material used in manufacturing these sanitary pads. Conventional sanitary pads can cause skin irritation and infection. The plastic-based sanitary pads contain harmful chemicals like pesticides and perfumes. To keep oneself away from such trouble use sanitary products made with organic ingredients. The brand that I rely on is Organyc. Their sanitary pads and tampons are manufactured in Italy & are made of 100% certified organic cotton. Their sanitary pads feel really soft on the skin and are breathable as well.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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