Menstrual Hygiene: Putting a period to period stereotypes

“When ignorance becomes a habit,

While hesitance turns into tendency,

No matter how hard we try to forget it,

Yet, it envelopes us with its permanency!”

Every morning comes with its own set of challenges. It is after all the part and parcel of our lives which form the crux of disappointments and rewards.

However, the game of life can hardly be described as fair. And sometimes, this biased game can throw curveballs which certainly can’t be termed as entertaining..

And in our country, the circumstances love to turn up the heat. And for this article in question, the spice is poverty and sentiments of the lower middle class and the below poverty line families.

These are the people who have almost no access to even basic amenities and health facilities and have to resort to the titular “JUGAADS”.

And however igneous though jugaads may be, they don’t really fit in well with hygiene, particularly women hygiene, and that’s not fair to the entity

who has the power to “procure” life, which no man can ever do however hard he tries. For a woman, giving birth to a child is a  experience that can’t be transcribed into mere words.

But, there is a phenomenal process called “MENSTRUATION” which decides whether a women will become a mother or not.

Menstruation is also commonly known termed as “periods”. It is a biological process through which almost every girl has to unfortunately go through each month, in which the uterus sheds its lining sending  blood flowing out through vaginas(except pregnancy when they go on a long reprieve). This is as natural as eating, sleeping, drinking and it’s beautiful too.

Yet we are hesitant to talk about it.

Not only that, our male dominated society has somehow managed to make it look like a dread.

Women are ashamed to talk about it in public. Since the beginning girls are trained to keep it secretive especially from the men of the family.

But, the thing which I want to address is their menstrual hygiene .

During menstruation, it is advised to maintain proper hygiene. As a little negligence can lead to a lot of health related issues.

But for maintaining that they need to use “sanitary napkins”. Unfortunately, this thing has turned out to be a luxury in our country as only 20% of our women’s society use pads.

Mostly because it is too costly for them to buy.

Do you know how much a single pack of sanitary napkins cost?

Around 100 rupees for one pack,that makes approximately 1200 rupees a year. That is a huge amount for a BPL women to spend and that too for pads. Because the person who is not even getting one meal a day would definitely prefer food over pads.

So, they turn to use things like ash, sand, soiled piece of cloth, hay and the list is unending!

Using these is not only unhygienic but also an invitation to a lot of serious diseases related to their reproductive system. Most common amongst them are cervical cancer,Endometriosis (MedlinePlus), Uterine Fibroids (MedlinePlus) .

In a country where they aren’t getting access to these basic amenities, how can we even think

that they would be getting access to medical facilities when infected by these diseases.

Imagine the situation of those women during their periods.

Last week, there was a  story regarding a girl of Tamil Nadu. She was in 7th standard and got her menstrual cycle started for the first time. She stained her clothes as well as the bench. When her teacher saw that, she scolded her a lot which led that girl to commit suicide.

I think picturing this, you must have got the seriousness of the situation.

However, there is one more grave problem related to this.

A menstruating women in our country is tagged to be impure. She is not allowed to enter the holy places as well as kitchen. In many places they are told to sleep on the floor, cook on their own and are also not allowed to go outside the house.

I have seen many girls drop out of the school once they start menstruating.

These all are myths.

But I can tell you from where it all started. During menstruation a woman suffers from lot of pain, cramps, headaches and mood swings.

So, in ancient times it was believed that a women having periods should stay at home and take proper rest and should take care of herself.

Unfortunately, with the passing generations this whole idea was demeaned. It was translated into something which is unacceptable. The darker part is that it is still practised in our country religiously. Mostly, because a large number of people are illiterate and are still unaware about these facts as well as amenities.

Specifically men of our society. Being a male driven society I think educating men before women will make our work a lot easier. In most of the houses decisions are taken by the man of the family as they are the one earning. When the man is informed fully, he is made aware about the importance of maintaining reproductive health, I think he will not let the women and girls present in his life suffer.

Also, it equally important to to educate women about hygiene. They should be told about how to use a sanitary napkin.they should be made aware of the fact that during menstruation they don’t become impure. It’s just a natural process which has been made a part of their life.

Looking to the gravity of the situation, there are many who came forward to address this issue.

They are doing a great job. But a handful of people can’t change the mindset of entire country. Though they can help the suffering women and girls to get access to sanitary pads but it’s we who really have to do the work.

We have to take strong stands on issues of such intrinsic magnitude and do our best to bring about change for the greater good Not only can we contribute to the NGOs’ working towards these cause financially, but we can also do our bit by spending our time on it. Regardless, of whether women become child-bearers, they deserve the respect and attention that can help them live long and healthy life. Time’s up! Equality, in all senses, for women is long due!

“Women has a heart of pure gold,

While a girl is a pure soul,

All we need to do is to make them bold,

Because

She has fire in her soul and grace in her heart.”

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