Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, Govt. of West Bengal
Bikash Bhaban, 10th Floor, DF Block
Sector-1, Salt Lake City
Subject: Normalizing menstruation and stopping discrimination and taking steps for better menstrual hygiene facilities
I would like to draw your kind attention to the following few lines for immediate action.
Menstrual hygiene is vital to the empowerment and well-being of women worldwide. It is about more than just access to sanitary pads and appropriate toilets or proper sanitation, though these are very important. It is also about ensuring women live in an environment that values and supports their ability to manage their menstruation with dignity. Menstruation is quite natural. But the boundaries and the set of stereotypical rules imposed upon our female sex by the so-called society really makes us go through the existential crisis at times. Our hypocritical society wants a woman to be a mother or else she will be cursed as a “barren lady” or an “inauspicious lady”;but the society can’t shows compassion to her when she is in menstruation. Do people even realise how much pain a woman undergoes during this phase which comes in every month?
Menstruation is the maternal pride, the pride of motherhood or maternity. Without it the female sex is totally incomplete. But now-a-days discrimination and shame have become the synonyms of any subject related to sexual and reproductive health and rights in India. Specifically if its related to women, so the menstruation is. I don’t understand the logic of our biased society related to the menstruation. I don’t understand what’s the point in harassing us by unnecessarily labelling us “impure” during the times of menstruation. Menstrual blood, which is considered so impure nurture fetus in the womb. So if a child specially a male child can not be an impure one, then how women during their menstruation become “impure”? Our society should be made aware of the fact that it is menstruation which gives a woman her right to be a mother.
No access to menstrual hygiene is the fifth biggest killer of women in the world. Nearly 23 million girls in India drop out of school annually due to the lack of proper menstrual hygiene management facilities in schools. In our country only 12% of Indian women use sanitary pads. What a poor condition!!!! In rural areas, women could not understand the terrible effects of the unhygienic living condition during menstruation. They could not buy sanitary pads for their high price and use dirty clothes. It may causes vaginal infections and other several health hazards including uterus cancer. Lack of awareness and proper education and socio-cultural misconceptions and superstitious beliefs have long deprived women access to proper menstrual hygiene management. The report of the Indian Council for Medical Research 2011-2012 stated that only 38% menstruating girls in India spoke freely to their mothers about menstruation. A 2014 UNICEF report pointed out that in Tamilnadu 79% girls and women were unaware of menstrual hygienic practices. The percentage was 66% in Uttar Pradesh, 56% in Rajasthan and 51% in our West Bengal. 71% adolescent girls in India remain unaware of menstruation till menarche. A 2015 survey by the Ministry of Education in India found that in 63% schools in villages, teachers never discussed about menstruation and how to deal with it in a hygienic manner.
I think access to the right information, proper education, appropriate guideness and correct products can resolve the concerns about menstruation to a large extent. People need to understand first the basic of menstruation as a biological, natural process that is intrinsically related to women body. It has nothing to feel ashamed about it. According to me each and every woman should be made aware of the use of hygienic menstrual cups which are made of medical grade silicone because these are non-toxic, reusable and environment friendly products. Government should organise campaign in schools and colleges and other different places for both the girls and the boys related to the menstruation and the importance of menstrual hygiene because without proper education and sufficient knowledge about menstruation and menstrual hygiene we could not make ourselves free from taboos and bondages.
I therefore request you to kindly look into the matter immediately and take whatever steps you deem fit. If you grant my request I shall be highly obliged.
Hoping your kind compliance
Singur, Ratanpur-2, 10 number railgate