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

Period Paath logoEditor’s Note: This article is a part of #Periodपाठ, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC, to highlight the need for better menstrual hygiene management among menstruating persons in India. Join the conversation to take action and demand change! The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily the views of the partners.

“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.
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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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

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
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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