Isn’t It Time We, As A Society, Did Away With Period Taboos?

Let’s not start with what “Period” is. We all are mature enough to know what it is. But for those who do not know, monthly cycle or a menstrual period is the intermittent shedding of the lining of a woman’s uterus. If this definition is making you uncomfortable, it’s perhaps because our society is yet to accept that this process is hygienic.

From all the research and google searches I have read and discovered, I can see a very small percentage of women and girls who are properly educated on bodily issues of any kind—periods being the most ignored. What is the reason for something so typical and hygienic to get ignored? There might be a lot of reasons, which are considered a social taboo.

First things first, as girls and women, we are still under certain societal boundaries that have been passed down ever since the establishment of patriarchy. This combines with women not receiving education about anything, including health and hygiene, because villages in India still consider it to be wrong. 

Credit: Thomas/Sustainable Menstruation Kerala Collective

I want to bring to your attention that young girls in India are suffering from social barriers because of periods. They are considered impure when this happens. But why? What could be the reason? People keep debarring us from temples, whereas they worship a goddess inside that temple. Funny, isn’t it? Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kali are all goddesses everyone worships, yet women are impure for a certain amount of time? I think this is just an excuse to show that patriarchy still controls us.

A bit of research helped me discover that this happens only in Hinduism. Churches and Mosques allow women to enter the holy place when they are on their periods. So please tell me what the reason for not allowing this is? It is a biological process that every woman has to go through. The fact that it makes women impure is a total myth. 

Women still suffer due to the high costs of tampons and sanitary pads, whereas condoms for men are available at a low price. All of this is so barbaric and frustrating for women that they feel like they do not have a voice, and even if they did, it is being ignored. I hope this clears up soon, and it is not a problem anymore. 

Most of you have seen the movie, Padman, right? Did you see how the subject of periods made everyone treat the protagonist of the story? If you think that it only happens in the movies, you are wrong. What they had portrayed still goes on in some villages where education or technology has little to no reach at all.

To the society that always looks down upon women and creates myths and taboos out of anything that a woman goes through, please wake up and look round. Help the girls, educate them. One day, this debarring and barbaric act could be held against your mother, daughter, and sister, what will you do then? I hope I was able to reach out to those who have friends and sisters who have no one to talk to. 

Break the stereotyping and move forward to the new era. Periods are acceptable, and it is not a taboo for society.

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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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