Why Are Periods A Taboo In India
Vaari ran towards her mom and hugged her tight. It had been a despicable day so far; a day full of hate not just from her classmates but also from herself.
Her mom’s presence felt like a ray of sunshine and her smile was enough to make her feel a tad bit better. ‘It’s okay, I’m here.’ Vaari’s mom said, kissing her forehead.
Well, Vaari just had her first period and she was obviously clueless about the crime scene that would come her way.
Did this little girl deserve so much resentment from her classmates for staining her clothes red in class? Do you think Vaari would have felt as shameful as she felt that day had her classmates been trained to react to something like this?
Of course not. You can imagine the kind of harm this entire incident may have had on her. I’m sure you know a Vaari in your life, or maybe you have been at her place.
Pads packed in black-colored polythene bags, those ninja moves that come alive while sneakily taking your pad out of the bag, asking your friend in hushed tones, ‘Mere peeche kuch laga hai kya?’ (Is there anything on my back?)
But what’s the worst that can even happen if there is something on the back? Why is menstruation a taboo in India, even after all this time?
1 in 5 girls drops out of school after their 1st period. As per a study, 71% of adolescent girls are not aware of menstruation until they have their first period. A lack of an open conversation about periods can lead to fear, anxiety, and unpreparedness among young girls when they start menstruating. 88% of menstruating women in India use newspapers, husk sand, and ashes for absorption of blood. An absence of conversation about reproductive health, puberty, and menstruation has led to such statistics. Period shaming is so real!
We are often made to feel shameful about something so important for life to exist.
The concept of men buying sanitary napkins for women is considered an even bigger taboo.
The best way to break the stigma around periods would be to discuss it openly instead of in hushed tones. Students- both females and males need to be educated about how normal menstrual blood is and being on your period is nothing to be ashamed of. Schools and workplaces can ensure that menstruating females can access the necessary sanitary supplies. Removing the stigma around periods can have multiple benefits like improved knowledge on reproductive health, positive impact on mental health, and reduced stress & awkwardness around this topic. Being open to conversations about menstrual health can prevent any negative effects on self-esteem among girls!
On the brighter side, initiatives to normalize taboos on menstruation by educational institutes and companies are certainly on the rise! Some companies are setting the bar high on menstruation-related initiatives. Call it providing 10-12 annual paid period leaves to women employees or making sanitary pads supplies available to them, they are making efforts!
Menstruation – a taboo in India; if broken rightly, can make lives simpler for a lot of young girls and women in India.