#PeriodPaath: Breaking The Norms

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To,
Health Minister Of Telangana,

Subject :- To spread awareness regarding menstruation

Respected Sir,

In a country where youth is trying to make their mark in every strata of progress, in a country where both men and women are fighting together make their lives liberated, in a country where women are making their point amidst all the odds, it’s sad that there are people who confined themselves from achieving their dreams fearing the social odds.

When it comes to a woman in Indian society, the first and the most important thing that she needs to fight is with the stigma associated with menstruation. Menstruation is a very normal biological process that every woman has to undergo. In India, a lot of stigma is being associated with periods. In rural areas, they go to the extent of isolating women when ‘she’ is on her period. A couple of months back I came across a piece of disheartening news which said that a woman has lost her life due to a fire accident in a ‘menstruation hut’. That was the first time when I heard of the term menstruation hut. I went on further to know about what a menstruation hut means.

A menstruation hut is basically a place of isolation used by certain cultures with strong menstrual taboos. These huts are basically built near the family home. They have small doors and are often dilapidated with poor sanitation and ventilation with no windows. The cause of death of the woman in the above case was also due to suffocation.

This haunts me, day in and day out as of why should a woman be treated “impure” during her periods? Is it right to reduce a woman’s dignity to such a low level when she is on her periods? Is it right on our part to do so? A woman who always keeps striving to make her mark is being pulled back just because of her menstrual stigma? Period is a topic that has never been spoken off freely in this society. As a nation when we are heading towards progress why is it so that we stopped our mindsets still at the age-old beliefs?

As a society, together, we need to overcome the taboo associated with menstruation. To do so I feel the government of the respective states has a very important role to play. There are many awareness campaigns being run all around the nation but I consider support from the respective state government would just act as a catalyst to make this movement reach masses very successfully.

The first step we need to take to fight against the stigma associated with periods is by awareness and education. Awareness should be brought amongst people that it’s okay to converse and discuss periods openly. Awareness should be made that periods are normal and there is nothing around it that doesn’t need to be spoken off.

The only way out by which we can overcome this is by educating people on periods. This can be done by conducting sessions and awareness campaigns at schools and primary health care centers. Educating people regarding periods especially amongst kids and youth would be the right thing to do. By doing so we are not only breaking the myth that a woman during periods isn’t impure and but also we are strongly making a point that ‘she’ deserves to be treated normally during her periods.

The usage of sanitary pads plays a very important role when a woman is on her periods. The state government is providing sanitary pads to all the government residential schools for free. I appreciate the openness of the government for this. Most of the women who come from a weak economic background do not prefer the usage of sanitary pads due to their high costs. I appeal to the government both center and state to make sanitary pads available to each and every woman both in rural and urban areas for a lower cost.

The next biggest step towards our fight against the period stigma would be the construction of toilets which are safe and hygienic. They play a very important role in maintaining one’s health. The construction of mobile toilets should be made in every part of the state and also there must be a sanitary pad machine that should be set up in the toilets so that it’s (pad) easily available for a woman when she is need of one.

I want to conclude by saying that periods are absolutely normal and there should not any be discrimination made against a woman when she is on her periods. India is a place where a woman is respected for her tolerance ; it’s wrong on our part to corner her just because of her biological birth. As a nation, we all must come together and deal with this issue.

Sincerely ,
Akshaya Chanchala

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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
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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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