#PeriodPaath: The Societal Taboo Called Menstruation

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Sri Sudama Roy

Subject : Menstrual hygiene in my locality.

Respected Sir,

I am a man and I feel pained to see the women of my country paying 12% tax on sanitary napkins which is a monthly necessity. The central government should scrap taxes on the sanitary napkins just like it has been doing for condoms and contraceptives. Activists, NGO and other men of eminence have promoted menstrual hygiene for some time now but this is something which demands much more attention and few important actions.

“Swachh Bharat Mission” addressed the issue of menstrual hygiene but rural India is still unaware of the hygienic guidelines that one should follow while menstruating. The government should take up actions to remove dogmas about menstruation and the taboos related to it. An educational drive should be carried to educate both the men and women above hygiene. Most of the women are called “impure” when they are menstruating, they are asked not to enter the kitchen, temple and touch a lot of objects which is an absolute superstition. Education to eradicate such notions should also be provided by the government.

Using sanitary napkins only doesn’t bring menstrual hygiene. Proper disposal of the napkins and using water and sanitizer properly to keep one clean is also very important to prevent diseases and infections of the vaginal tract. It is said that there are increased chances of vaginal infections during menstruation. So a proper sanitization and disposition are very important. It’s the cleanliness that should be taught first while educating on menstruation.

A large number of women uses sand & reusable clothes during menstruation which largely increases the chances of such infections. Statistically speaking only 12% of the women in the country has access to sanitary napkins. The high cost of the napkins and its unavailability in many remote areas is one of the many reasons. The government should install pad vending machines in all government institutes be it schools, colleges or offices to promote menstrual hygiene. Being a male, I see the utmost need of educating the men more on menstruation so that they can be sensible enough and supportive for the women around them. The men must know that menstruation is not something they can joke of.

Medical teams visiting schools should educate the tender mined teenagers about the hardships any female faces during this period and her needs. Also, females must be taught that menstruation is nothing but a biological process. There shouldn’t be any stigmas associated with it and talking about it with anyone in public is nothing to feel ashamed of. Asking for sanitary napkins in shops or at any medical stores shouldn’t bother them because it’s as natural as urinating or defecating. Even a male colleague or friend can help to get a pad because it’s as simple as buying a hand sanitizer and buying napkins for their female friends, colleagues or relatives doesn’t harm their dignity.

I am a student and to my surprise, my friends too, feel shy to talk about “periods” openly. The government should take initiatives such as launching campaigns and organising events to break these stigmas. Menstrual hygiene can only be achieved when everyone is well aware of menstruation and when they understand that it’s a simple process of the female reproductive system. So it’s my humble request to you to take necessary actions so that menstrual hygiene can be achieved in our locality.

Thanking you.

Yours faithfully
Roshan Amar Ujala

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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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