#PeriodPaath: An Open Letter – Menstruation

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My name is Sparshika Tripathi and I am from Indirapuram Public School.

“Menstrual blood is the only source of blood that is not traumatically induced. Yet in modern society, this is the most hidden blood and the most disgusted one.”

This quote by Judy Grahan clearly suggests the sick thought process of people around the world. In India, even after so many years of independence and the presence of a lot of so called ‘educated people’, menstruation is a still a taboo. What is the soul reason that this mindset of people continues to prevail?

The answer is quite simple but a bit scary. It is because people are not aware of the facts. In a recent study it was found that 71% of the girls in India report having no knowledge of menstruation before their first period. Furthermore, 71% of women report their incapability to afford sanitary pads. Many girls and women follow cultural practices and perpetuate taboos and regard period as dirty.

Sir, it is quite funny how we worship women and yet don’t provide them with adequate and sufficient facilities for something as natural as periods. Not only this, but also periods are thought of as a concern to only women and not men. I, as a student firmly believes that it is high time now that the government along with the youngsters should take necessary steps towards removing menstruation as a taboo and a better menstrual hygiene.

Starting off some schemes similar to ‘Beti Bachai, Beti Padhao’ could be a great step towards the problem. Advertisement about various types of products used during menstruation and how it is very normal and natural should also act as a bridge between the distant mindsets of people. Women should also be made aware about the Menstrual waste disposal techniques such as burning, buying, waste segregation etc.

Considering another dimension of this problem, the boys should also be educated on such topics, the reason being that the single parent fathers, husbands ,brothers will be able to help their girls with the same.  Due to myths, prejudices and discrimination it definitely is difficult to talk about menstruation with men. However, by engaging them into group discussions and regular meetings it is possible to change their perception and make them aware about their roles regarding this issue.

Proper sex education in schools can also help adolescent girls and boys to discover their sexual identity and protect themselves from sexual abuse, STDs  and make them aware about how to take care of their personal hygiene.To overcome these issues male teachers and members of the house should also support women by providing them a safe environment and privacy.

Sanitary pads should be distributed for free to encourage families to buy them and also to make them aware.

As a citizen of this country who will have to vote in some years, I firmly believe that menstrual hygiene should be promoted by implementing a course of menstrual hygiene management. Also, adolescents should be encouraged at school levels to practice safe and hygienic behaviours.

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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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