Minister of Health & Family Welfare
Government of Arunachal Pradesh
My name is Takam Kasumi, a fellow citizen of Arunachal Pradesh. In this letter, I would like to raise the difficulty that every girl and women has to undergo every month, “Period”. Within the rural region of Arunachal Pradesh, the majority of the girls from the poor scheduled tribal families are not being sent to school. Even if they are sent to school, the educational system is so poor, with the lack of facilities and teachers. So this is where the problem lies.
Menstrual hygiene is a major issue that every girl and women ought to practice in her life. However, there’s an absence of awareness concerning menstruation, hygiene practices during the physical and psychological changes associated with puberty in Arunachal Pradesh.
In my family, the majority of women use sanitary napkin but a good percentage still uses a cloth to soak menstrual flow. When I asked my aunts the reason for not using sanitary napkins, the explanation were: the price of sanitary napkins is incredibly high whereas only one napkin can be used once, and there are no provisions for disposal of sanitary napkins, especially in the public places.
So, sir I firmly believe that empowering a successive generation to view PERIODS as a natural physical cycle is significant for building a society that is more equitable, rather a taboo. Young girls should be taught regarding menstruation, starting from elementary school. The pain, stress, mood swings and hormones ought to be explained to them.
Growing up, I recall my mother would stealthily hide her box of pads. I would wonder what was that? But, in the fear of getting scold, never had the courage to ask about it. I would also recall at my high school time our biology teacher splitting boys and girls from our class to teach about that one chapter which my biology teacher felt embarrassed for.
I was never been taught about menstruation either at my home or in school properly. And the next thing I knew I was having my first period which I kept a secret from my mother for a day. Why? The answer is obvious I was awkward and shy to walk up to my mother to talk about it. I was only 11 years old, I didn’t know what was going on with my body.
All I knew was there was blood, and that I felt terrified. So, I tore off my face towel and wrapped them around my underwear like gauze. During high school, I was advised to slip a pad up my sleeves when going to the toilet and conditioned to speak in a hushed tone when asking friends if they had a spare pad.
I suppose it was all due to the lack of knowledge. In India, only 1 in every 2 girls has menstrual knowledge before their first period.
Therefore, sir, I request you to take an initiative to empower and educate the young girls to come out of taboos, guiding them on the use of sanitary products, creating facilities for disposal of sanitary napkins and making sanitary napkins available at affordable prices which will help in improving menstrual hygiene. I understand the use of sanitary napkins is not sufficient to ensure menstrual hygiene.
Therefore, awareness among women about the hygienic use of sanitary napkins needs to be addressed. Menstruation has to be a normal conversational subject, regardless of any gender in society. Our purpose should be to get people of Arunachal speak about this matter without any shyness while breaking the silence.