#PeriodPaath: Don’t Stop The Stigma, Burn The Stigma!

Editor’s Note: This post is an entry for the #Periodपाठ writing contest, a unique opportunity for you to write a letter and stand a chance of winning up to ₹30,000! The contest is organised by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC. Find out more here and submit your entry!

A girl got down from her school bus and entered her residency. The boys sitting inside the bus were perplexed and quiet. She witnessed the pitiful eyes of people on the road over her.

“Mom, am I not looking good today?”, she asked in a concerned tone as she reached home.

As she turned her back towards Mom to see her face in the mirror, Mom patted her from behind, “Oh dear, what have you done?”

“What have I done Mom?”

Her skirt was stained with blood all over.

Mom took her to washroom and picked up the last pad available in the house and asked her to follow her advice, whichever she gave to her.

“Is anything wrong with me Mom?”, those questioning eyes of her made her Mom dumbfounded.

“No, dear. Finish your lunch, you got to go to a medical store to get some sanitary napkins.”

Pondering over what was heard, she gulped down the lunch without a word and washed her hands.

“Whisper extra large orange colour packet”, she asked on the medical counter, recalling her mother’s words.

The medical guy wrapped the pads in a newspaper, stapled it and gave to the girl. She left hurriedly.

What are we teaching girls? Are we teaching them acceptance or making them guilty of being a woman?

An open letter to the real stained minds of the society:

“Stains of blood on her clothing isn’t a blot on her dignity but a stigma on your minds. She isn’t supposed to be clean to keep tidiness in your vicinity.

A temple wouldn’t be a sacred place without Lordess Durga’s deity kept in it.

It’s a high time to stop the percolation of menstruation related stigma in our society. A bleeding woman isn’t impure but a sign of divinity, the reason why someone gets to see this world. We need to make our boys understand and respect and protect her more on her ‘those’ days instead of creating an awkward state for her.

Stop defaming n shaming her during her menstrual cycles, understand the pain she goes through instead of aggravating it.

Shaming the woman on her chums? Shame on u first!”

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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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