#PeriodPaath: Redemption From The Stigma Of Menstruation

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!

To

Department of Women and child development & social welfare

West Bengal

Respected Sir/ Madam,

Subject- Societal imposition of rules on women when they have menstruation and to free women by breaking  this shackle

I am Srilekha Mitra, a second year English honours student currently studying under Calcutta University. In this letter i want to raise the problem that we The Women of society has to undergo regarding our “periods” which comes once every month. The boundaries and the set of stereotypical rules imposed upon our sex by society really makes us go through existential crisis at times. I mean this is a natural process so what’s the point in harassing us unecessarily labelling us as “impure”. Instead of doing closeted discussions as it is considered as a “taboo” just as “sex”, We should do open discussions on this matter otherwise this kind of ill treatment towards women when they are going through the menstrual cycle is never going to reduce. People should be made aware of the biological definition of menstruation other than the superstitious one regarding which they are very stubborn which is one of the sole reasons of their callous behaviour towards a woman when she is having her monthly periods and  the epitome of which  we have seen a few days back in that hostel of Gujrat, How that warden being a woman harassed all the girls of that hostel after she discovered a used sanitary napkin Now my question to you is “How long we have to bear these discrimination?” Do people even realise how much pain a woman undergoes during this phase? She should be handled with special care during this period instead she is thrown to more difficulties which makes it horrible for her.

How hypocritical is this society! they want a woman to be a mother or else she will be cursed as a “barren lady” but they can’t show compassion to her when she has menstruation. They should be made aware of the fact that menstruation gives a woman her right to be a mother.

I urge you sir/ madam to look into this matter as soon as possible as per convenience. I would really appreciate if the government launches public awareness programmes on this issue to awaken people’s conscience. It would be really kind if the government also makes sanitary napkins free for women so that all classes of women can afford. Moreover vending machines containing free sanitary napkins in college and schools should be set up to save girls from public embarrassment. I hope you understand sir what I wanted to convey and put my words into quick action.

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully,

Srilekha Mitra.

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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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