#MyPeriodStory: From A Disaster To Development

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I woke up and had to visit some place because of which I got ready quickly. The red stains in my clothes dumped in the laundry basket were found by my mother while I was searching her to share my concerns. She looked confused and maybe a little bit angry. I was younger than the average puberty age at that time. She was worried that I would have to go through this hell at such a young age. She said nothing but only demonstrated how to use a sanitary napkin. I realised later that she even consulted a doctor about it. I was the most confused. But within some days it was over.

The next month it happened again. Foolish me. I had thought it was a one time thing. I didn’t have access to internet at that time. It could’ve made the experience a lot easier. I had dozens of questions which my english teacher answered when one of our classmates got her period in class and completely stained her white skirt. She asked who among us had already started to menstruate. Since it was a taboo and I hadn’t discussed it with anyone else, I didn’t have the courage to raise my hand. She thought us everything we needed to learn. I was finally equipped with some knowledge.

One day a gynaecologist was called into our school and she answered our residual doubts. I enjoyed the session. For the first time, there were so many girls, raising questions which had roamed in their minds forever. It wasn’t enough for me. It raised more questions in my mind. I did research on all of them and finally normalised the issue of menstruation in my mind. But it was still a taboo in my house. The elders still talked about it in hushed voices and that too seldom happened.

After a long time, the issue began to be raised more openly. I remember seeing a newspaper article with pictures of celebrities holding sanitary pads. And I very particularly remember my cousin bashing the trend. They even used to change the channel when an advertisement of pads was broadcast. Their reaction to what they called a “disgusting subject” disgusted me.
I started reading more about it. I came across a lot of articles and videos on internet which had proved to be an expert I didn’t shy from. I discussed the information with my freinds. Most of them didn’t know about what I said. This is the ignorance that leads to diseases related to menstruation.

Eventually, we the time we spent on discussing it lengthened. I realised it was my duty to impart the information I had with others. That’s what I did. And that’s what I’ve been doing. Just the day of my menarche isn’t my period story. My period story is discovering every aspect of menstruation. It’s my journey from knowing nothing to being curious to discovering. It’s still going on. I’m still working on the Whisper’s motto
“Yahi Soch To Badalni Hai” .

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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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