About Menstruation

Archana Gupta
Gut wrenching pains, I feel
Every month for 7 days, I bleed;
Still you view my blood with disgust,
When it bears the fruit of your seed.

Menstruation, also known as Menorrhea, is a natural phenomenon distinctive to girls. It is a process in which the blood egests from the uterus through vagina. This characteristic interaction first happens at the age of 11 and 14 years which is contemplated as the beginning of pubescence among them.
It has always been encircled by many anathema and false notions in many societies. In various countries like India, this theme has been disbelieved till date.
The women are looked down as unclean and impure for the community. Humankind fails to understand that if women do not have menstrual cycles, then none of them would have been born. Each and every child on this planet earth is born through menstrual cycle and if that is impure, then everybody’s birth is impure and also then the creation is impure.
Menstruation and History
The genesis of this taboo foreruns from the Vedic period and has been connected to the Indra’s slaying of Vritras’. In Vedas, the guilt of murdering a brahmana has been explained and is generally believed that every month it is viewed as a menstrual cycle because of the women who have taken bull by the horns and initiated the part of Indra’s guilt.
Quandaries faced by women
Menstruation has become a nightmare for women. They do not possess proper menstrual sanitary products like sanitary napkins, tampons, menstrual cups etc. Many women in India still turn to banana peels, leaves, and clothes during their menstrual cycle. Improper hygiene methods have led these girls to suffer various diseases like uterus and skin cancer, etc. and they generally have to face humiliation. In 2018, the government of India imposed the divisive pink tax wherein, the women are customarily charged 12 percent GST tax on menstrual sanitary products. Lower sections of society are generally ignored as these women earn less and have to pay more due to these draconian taxes. UNFPA (The United Nations Population Fund Agency), an international organization which assists the rights of all the women, men and child so that every human kind in the world can adore a healthy life and avail equal opportunities. They provide menstrual sanitary products to women and also sexuality education which includes Menstrual Health Information. India has witnessed many child bride alliances as the first menstrual period ended up with marriages and child bearing. This is generally regarded as a symbol of transition into womanhood and they are unable to follow their dreams. Many women die because of frustration and depression.
Chhaupadi is still exercised in many villages of India. It is a practice wherein the women are forced to live outside their homes, in a shack or mensuration huts while they are menstruating and are exposed to extreme cold, animal attacks and sexual violence. They have to eat their meals in certain utensils which are later disposed off and told to wear special clothes which are later buried. It is seen as the sign of an evil spirit and believed that menstrual blood was used by the women to foist her wish on a man and for this they are not allowed to come in contact with the other people around them. Due to lack of awareness, the women suffer the stigma of isolation, shame and danger. They are not permitted to enter kitchens. In the air of modernization, it’s still implied that women while menstruating release some smell that makes the preserved food unpleasant and touching various food items like pickles, curd, etc contaminates them. They are even restrained from going to temples, pooja rooms to offer prayers and touch holy books.
superstitions in other countries
In Israel, the girl gets a slap on her face when she gets her first period just because of the disbelief that these pleasing red cheeks will remain constant throughout her life.
In countries like Romania and Italy, it is directed not to touch the flowers otherwise they will die sooner.
In the Philippines, the girl needs to scrub her face with the first menstrual blood so that she can have a glowing skin.
Social Stigma
This abhorrent anathema has impacted the women in a pessimistic way. This has affected them emotionally and mentally. The women while menstruating feel less confident and stigmatized. This has also affected their lifestyle. Many parents feel hesitant in educating their children about menstruation and this topic is never discussed loudly so it’s the high time to educate every girl about the menstrual cycle and spread awareness about menstrual health and hygiene. Not only the girls should be educated, but it is equally salient for the men and the boys to acknowledge menstruation so that they can majorly support their wives, daughters, sisters and peers. Many health education campaigns have proved successful in attaining this goal. There should be proper arrangements for providing apposite facilities for sanitation. Taking into consideration the lower sections of the society, low priced sanitary napkins should be made available in the countryside and ghetto areas. Many schemes such as the NRHM (National Rural Health Mission) have been launched by the Government of India in this regard.
Kaleidoscope of Change and Hope
The denial and disgust portrayed by people towards menstruation can never alternate the fact that the virtuous and pious act of parturition is a consequence of the bleeding cycle a girl goes through every month. Although it’s difficult to change and convince someone’s perspective, we can still behold the responsibility of educating others and eradicating this taboo which has somewhere wired an invisible leash around girls. It somewhere minimizes and muffles their wails of pain and obstructs this generation from normalizing Periods and its agonizing pain. With the disappearance of hatred and superstitions regarding menstruation, there would be surfacing of empowering men who would openly buy sanitary products for their special ladies without an ounce of shame or disgust.
The Society needs such men
We need such men.