“Menstruation is the only blood that is not born from violence, yet it’s the one that disgusts you the most”- Maria Schwartz
The Menstrual cycle is a normal biological process which every female human undergoes as a part of their regular lives. But in most parts of our “great” country which boasts itself of being a matriarchal society ever since the ancient times, this is treated with utmost negativity and is mishandled in every way possible. This very attitude has driven people towards the development of a negative mindset about menstrual cycle in women and consider it to be something very shameful and dirty.
The Indian subcontinent is among the most diverse countries on the globe. Its home to several types of people and cultural practices most of which although are not less than 1000 years old, are still being meticulously followed in most of the places. Most of these highly valued cultures has stated the process of menstruation in women to be a Taboo. As a result of such ignorance of such cultures and people, most of the girls don’t receive proper knowledge on how to handle it in a proper and hygienic manner. Funny, the English word “taboo”, comes from Polynesian word “tapua”, which means sacred, which is quite ironic considering how menstruation is treated.
On an average a girl attains puberty at an age of 12-15 years. This is actually the time they start turning into adolescents. The process of converting into an adolescent from a child is a gradual process, they can’t turn into one immediately, they are still children who are unaware of the changes they will be undergoing at the time of puberty. Lack of hygiene in the management of Menstrual cycles is a serious barrier to a girl’s education. Studies have shown that girls miss school for an average of 4-10 days when it is the time of the month and on an annual scale they miss about 90 days which is equivalent to one full term of school.
We don’t have a proper way to educate the young adolescents about the changes they face. These changes instill fear in their minds, and to top off their fear, the way they are not even allowed to talk about it makes their situation even worse. Most of the schools don’t have access to hygienic sanitary facilities. While in some remote villages, usage of these hygiene facilities is another “Taboo”. In most of the schools around the world, menstruation is explained if its explained in not as much detail as would be necessary. The most common reason given by the schools is that the topic of menstruation cannot be discussed without bringing in the topic of sex or intercourse.
While menstruation is one of the most natural phenomena most woman have to deal with, instead of being the most natural conversation starter it’s instead in some places an unfortunate conversation stopper. Looking back in time. Most of the religions and customs that have been prevalent in different parts of the world had a prejudiced view about menstruating women, who were always viewed as unclean or impure and hence spiritually, physically unfit for both religious practices or daily life activities. This exclusion is mostly without the choice of the women, as they are forced to buy into a certain narrative on menstrual blood at an early age, without freedom to question it.
Not only do Indian households follow such an absurd customary practice and now to make it even worse our country currently imposes a 12% tax on pads and tampons. They make up to 2.4 lakh crores. In our country where gender inequality is easily observed in many places do u think all woman are employed. We haven’t been able to educate children on this topic and now this! When did bleeding become a privilege?
It always comes down to one’s own mindset about things. As years go on we must realize that some of the cultural methods which were followed were pointless and we must move on from these. Teaching your children about how to deal with the changes in them is our responsibility. Tell them that there are different views about menstrual blood and don’t tie them down to your own views or your mother’s. Hand them down the proper culture they deserve to cherish and not your views on menstrual blood as some sort of legacy to be remembered. Tell them why you do what you do and let them grow into proper human beings we wish we were.
-Srikrishnan Senthil Kumar