#MyPeriodStory: From silly stories to facts

Editor’s Note: This post is an entry for the #MyPeriodStory writing contest, a unique opportunity for you to write a letter and stand a chance of winning Amazon vouchers worth ₹2,500! The contest is organised by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC. Find out more here and submit your entry!

There are certain phases in our lives which though might seem very minor and mundane but have a very major impact in our lives. At that time, we might feel it is a very little incident, but then it eventually shapes our life, whose importance we understand very later in life. One such incident was how I got my periods, which thankfully I’d written in my diary back then with all my teenage emotions very raw, which I’m able to make sense today.

I got to my periods when I was in class 8 but I knew about it since class 6. It was my friends who acquainted me with the whole concept that we “bleed every month.” Of course, our knowledge back then was supported by silly theories that if you get periods, you’ll be pregnant. Some said if you get periods, your height will not increase, some said once you get periods you will not be able to visit temples. And back then, visiting temples was a very big deal for me because I was learning one of the scriptures and it meant I had to leave it mid-way. Whereas some said if you don’t get periods, you are not a girl! And to top it all, my girl-friends warned me to not discuss this with any boy because if you do then you will be cursed!

From class 6 to class 8 was the torturous years of my life. My teen-mind was torn between such a dilemma  – I could not understand whether I should pray to have periods or not? And like many other girls, I did not consider talking to my mother or grandmother about it, until I finally had my periods.

It was a Friday and I was going to watch ‘Rab Ne Bana di Jodi’ with my family in the evening. Luckily, I had my periods in the afternoon and I called my friend who had told me that I should inform her first when I get it. Back then we had a landline but when I called her, I couldn’t connect to her. I was getting agitated so eventually, I had to rush to my grandmother for this. It was she who then educated me about the whole process and made me understand the significance of it. She then narrated me how different the things were for her when she got it at her time. They used a home cloth but we still are better off with a sanitized pad at least. She also sat down with me and clarified all my silly doubts and stupid concepts. I told her not to tell this to my mother or I will appear as a very foolish girl and to this date, she makes fun of me for believing such things and we joke a lot!

If you’re a young girl reading this and still haven’t got periods, first of all, get off the internet and TALK to the women in your family. If they are not available, please don’t hesitate to talk to your father or uncle or anyone whom you trust and is preferably older to you.

The more we taboo from talking about it, the more misconceptions sprouts from it which is disastrous to us as a society.

In the present times, it is very important for parents, schools and the government bodies to take an initiative and start a conversation with the young minds to prevent any sort of fear or anxiety grow into them.

 #MyPeriodStory

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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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