Menstruation – A Taboo in 21st Century
Written by- Ishita Singh
Menstruation simply means the female period or Menses, is a natural process which occurs every month inside a female’s body. It regulates the secretion of essential hormones to keep the body healthy. It prepares the body for fertility each month. Having uniform menstruation every month stipulates a healthy body yet girls and women in India undergo intense struggle to manage periods every month and till now the topic of menstruation is contemplated as a gag affair and kept under the wraps of “Black Plastic Bags or Newspaper Wraps”.
In India, a woman on her periods is not allowed to go at any religious place like temple. They are also not allowed to enter the kitchen as it signifies impurity, touching a jar of pickles and whatnot, as they’re considered “Unclean”. According to a UNICEF study, 48% of girls in Iran believes that menstruation is a disease. While with access to sanitary pads women can now maintain proper hygiene during “those five days”, the social stigma still manages to get to her, making her feel “unclean”.
While in India only 36% of the women in India use Sanitary Pads during period and there are 355 Million is the number of Menstruating women in India which is approximately 30% of the country’s population still 71% adolescent girls in India remain unaware of mensuration till Menarche. A 2014 report by the NGO Dasra entitled Spot On! found that practically 23 million girls drop out of school per year due to lack of proper menstrual hygiene management facilities, which include availability of sanitary napkins and logical awareness of menstruation.
Lack of Awareness
Lack of awareness is a major problem in India’s Menstrual Hygiene Structure. A report by Indian Council for Medical Research claims that only 38% menstruating girls spoke to their mothers about Menstruation whereas a survey conducted by Ministry of Education found that 63% of schools, teachers never want to discuss about menstruation and how to deal with it in a hygienic manner to the students.
Lack of Sanitary Pads and Proper Facilities
In Urban Areas availability of sanitary pads for a woman aware of Menstruation is a normal process as sanitary pads are available on Medical Stores, General Store and grocery stores and they are treated as any other product. In rural areas, sanitary napkins are found with difficulty. Girls there mostly rely on cloth material which unhygienic and such methods increase chances of infection and severe menstrual diseases. About 2-3% of girls in rural areas have access to sanitary pads. The shopkeepers never stock sanitary napkins there because they feel shameful while selling it and even people feel shame to ask for it even girls themselves.
“It has been seen in rural areas that two-three women of the same family use the same cloth during menstruation, after washing and drying it. This is extremely unhealthy and brings numerous health risks. Sanitary napkins are a luxury in rural areas and small towns. Even if available, women are discouraged from spending on sanitary napkins as old clothes or sand is thought to be good enough for something ‘dirty’ like menstruation, said Ms Sharma – NDTV India”.
Government Schemes on Menstruation.
Under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, menstrual hygiene is topic of primary importance. The Swachh Bharat (Rural) guidelines directly states that funds allocated for information, education and communication (IEC) should be spent on spreading awareness on menstrual hygiene in villages.Importance and proper knowledge of menstrual hygiene and development of local sanitary napkin manufacturing units is encouraged by Swachh Bharat Mission (rural) and self-help groups are to help in propagating such efforts.
“Only way to curb this issue is EDUCATION”.