Last Saturday was International Menstrual Hygiene Day. How many of us would have thought there’s a whole international day to talk about something that guys would get real queasy about.
Nothing much in the newspapers in Patna, we’re sure some women’s organisations somewhere in Bihar must have made a big deal about it. And they should!
Statistics reveal that at least 23 per cent of girls in India quit schools when they start menstruating and the rest miss at least five days during periods! “Various research studies have identified menstruation as one of the key barriers to girls’ school attendance and attainment. We have to break it if we care about girls in our society,” said Dr Arun Gupta of Delhi Medical Council.
In Delhi, some 600 school children took out a rally today to spread awareness on menstrual hygiene, raising slogans about breaking taboos surrounding the issue.
The rally from Connaught Place to NDMC Convention Centre, organised on the occasion of International Menstrual Hygiene Day by the Department of Women and Child Development in collaboration with Sachchi Saheli, was flagged off by Delhi’s Women and Child Development Minister Sandeep Kumar.
Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chairperson Swati Maliwal said “we should talk about it freely and without hesitation” so as to break the taboo. Delhi’s Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra told the children that they must not give in to social pressure and should stand and say no to taboos linked to menstrual cycle.
“Our understanding of menstruation was vague prior to science clarifying it. Thus a lot of bizarre beliefs were twisted to explain periods in primeval communities and cultures. Though now proven wrong by science, these beliefs are still practised in current societies and by so-called modern communities, especially in India,” said Dr Surbhi Singh, founder of Sachi Saheli.
“Despite having known that menstrual fluid is nothing but a harmless mixture of blood, tissues and small amounts of hormones for about a century now, the culture of silence around the subject keeps menstrual myths unquestioned and inviolable.
“We aren’t supposed to talk about it in the open, nor are we supposed to question the restrictions and rules that follow this natural, not to mention essential, biological process. This initiative is to break this taboo,” she said.
Dr Arun Gupta, President of Delhi Medical Council (DMC), said the myth and superstition that surround menstruation are affecting millions of women every day and more importantly, shaping how young girls and women look at themselves, their bodies and their roles in our society.
Not only in India, but throughout South Asia these myths bound. Young girls go through a challenging phase of their lives when they enter their menstrual cycle. Changes occur, both biological and emotional sorts. A reluctance to speak about it publically often results in unhealthy hygienic conditions that influence women’s health.
They say, when you want to get your voice heard in the babble of voices, make your issue public.
This is what has been happening now. More and more women have started to take their stance on menstruation or menstrual hygiene. They want to speak about the challenges women across the world have to face during their special days and are trying to address those through social media.
Last year, a ‘Sanitary Pad’ campaign against rape and sexism initiated from the India’s Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi. Students of the university put up sanitary pads with feminist messages on the walls of their campus in protest against rape, sexism and raising voice creating awareness regarding menstruation.