A curious child put a sanitary pad in her underwear and pees on it in the washroom. She saw how the pad soaked the urine and hence, she concluded that this is meant for women who have no control over their urinary bladder and they use it as a damage control. That child is ME !
You see I belonged to a well off family but talking about periods was still a shameful thing. Everybody at my place knew that I have been experimenting with sanitary pads but nobody really explained me the purpose of it even after asking multiple times. It was back in 2011 when a friend told that when we (women) reach the age of 13-14, we get our periods (menses). The concept was still very new and I was still very confused until I got my periods.
It was 2013 and I was casually sitting with my sisters with legs wide open. She saw the stain on my trousers and said, “I guess you have started menstruating.” She gave a sanitary napkin and told me how to use it. So now, I knew that periods occur every month and lasts for 3-10 days. But I still did not have answers to my questions. I still did not know what is periods? Or why does it happen to every woman out there. The only thing I understood from my biology class was, that a pregnant woman does not menstruate. I studied in a prestigious school with one of the finest teachers and yet, yet MENSTRUATION or “THE REPRODUCTIVE CHAPTER” was not discussed openly in the class. And there it all starts I suppose, THE SHAME, THE TABOO !
**We have been brought up in a society where talking about menstruation is a taboo. We are taught that a boy or a man should not even know that we are menstruating as if it is something we should be ashamed of. And most of us still believe in it no matter to which strata of society we belong to. What makes me sad is that most of us do not even know the physiology of menstruation. We are unaware of our own body. Most of us think that we menstruate from the same orifice from where we pee. But the truth is that we have three orifices in the lower abdomen – urethra (from where we pee), vagina (from where we menstruate) and anus (from where we poop).**
I also believed in such stereotypes until Goonj happened last year. There I learnt the true essence of dignity, of being a woman. I felt comfortable in talking about periods to others, to non-menstruators. They enlightened me with the physiology of menstruation. When we talk about awareness campaigns, we generally target the marginalized, vulnerable section of the society without realizing that every one out there should know about it irrespective of their class. For the first time in 20 years, I got an environment where there was no shame in talking about periods. An environment where I learnt how necessary it was for us to talk about it, to break the myths.
July, 2019 transformed me into somebody I never knew I could be. Since then, I have taken CHUPPI TODO BAITHAK(s) or BREAK THE SILENCE session with more than 500 women enlightening them about menstruation. I impart to them the knowledge, the wisdom I have received in Goonj and I try to bring change in the society by making menstruation a HUMAN ISSUE.