This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Sharanya. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

5 Times Periods Were So Offensive, They Were Censored

More from Sharanya

This post is a part of Periodपाठ, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC to highlight the need for better menstrual hygiene management in India. Click here to find out more.

Womxn bleed and it’s a biological process. It’s a fact and a lived experience of many. Sadly, menstruation is still stigmatized and not openly discussed. Even the mere sight of blood on social media is deemed “inappropriate,” but inappropriate misogynistic and sexist comments on social media get ignored.

Social media sites have always been under the limelight for censoring posts on periods. These are the same platforms one will come across with content that is explicitly discriminatory and hateful. But, why does a picture with a stained bed sheet or mere depiction of menstruation receive so much backlash?

Is it so tough to come to terms that womxn bleed? Why is the sight of period blood censored, but sexualizing a body is accepted and normalized?

There have been numerous examples of censorship of periods that have received mixed reactions and led to discussions on the internet. Here are the five examples of the same:

Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur
Image Credit: Rupi Kaur/Instagram

We’ve have heard of Rupi Kaur as a poet, but she came under the limelight when, in 2015, Instagram censored her account. Rupi Kaur’s photos of her periods had gone viral. Instagram removed the picture on the ground that it “violated the community standards.” A lot of people called it provocative and she had to face backlash. At the same time, a lot of people came out in her support. Eventually, Instagram apologized to her and said it had removed it “by mistake“.

Jewellery Design By Lilli Murphy-Johnson

Stained Knickers by Lili Murphy-Johnson.

Lilli Murphy- Johnson in the year 2016, put up jewellery inspired by periods on an online store, Etsy. The aim of the jewellery was to destigmatize the taboo around menstruation through art and design. Etsy suspended the account and called it inappropriate and “mature content”. The store asked the designer to mark it 18+ if she wanted to put it back on the site to sell it. The designer did not put it back.

Charlotte Alfamow’s ‘Les Passantes’

Charlotte Alfamow directed Les Passantes, a music video sung by Georges Brassens, which was released on March 8th on the occasion of International Women’s Day. The same day, Youtube censored the video for “offensive content”.

The video depicts menstruation and the vulva which initially led Youtube to ban it by calling it inappropriate for children under 18+, although the ban was later removed. Interestingly, the video also received the Women’s Rights Prize. 

A Thinx Ad Depicting Men And Periods

Thinx had released a video, depicting men menstruating, in 2019. The ad faced censorship and was banned from being telecast. The company was asked to remove the bloodstain and tampon strings scenes to get broadcasted on television. The ad was later accepted across all the networks after the removal of the two scenes. Although, the video of the ad is now available on youtube.

Kiran Gandhi Ran A Marathon Without A Sanitary Pad

Kiran Gandhi ran a London Marathon without a tampon or pad while she was on her periods. Her blood-stained pants drew the attention of the media. She wanted to make a point that a large percentage of womxn have no access to tampons and pads. The picture drew global attention and initiated a lot of discussion around it.

Marathon runner’s period blood censored by Daily Mail.

According to a website called Jezebel, UK tabloid Daily Mail had first published the story with a pixelated picture of bloodstained pants but later on, replaced it with the original picture after someone pointed out.

Online Platforms And The Apathy Towards Blood

We grew up believing that periods are ‘unhygienic’ and need to be kept a ‘secret’. Women end up keeping it a secret and do not share the issues and problems faced during periods. This whole secrecy, taboo, and stigma around menstruation is upheld through culture, tradition and rituals which are passed down from one generation to another.

The media also makes it difficult to break the taboo and stigma around menstruation. It only perpetuates the existing taboo and stigma by censoring the graphics and images of bloodstains. Advertisements, instead of red bloodstains, use blue colour to represent blood.

When Instagram censors photos, they put across the point that it violates “community guidelines”. This is the same platform, where misogynists, sexist people, and obnoxious comments take ages to be removed or never gets removed. Rape-threats, death threats get all the attention but no backlash.

Like Rupi Kaur responded, “Their Patriarchy is leaking.” Indeed, it stands true!

The author is a part of the current batch of the #PeriodParGyan Writer’s Training Program.

You must be to comment.

More from Sharanya

Similar Posts

By Charkha features

By Swami Shankar

By Sharique Ahmed Khan

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below