Chums, down, that time of the month, code red are some alternatives used by society to desperately avoid the term ‘period’ because if someone hears you talking about the one who should not be named, you will be deemed to shame and social humiliation for the rest of your life. Ironically, it’s funny because it is true.
People feel shy talking about a process that is natural and happens to every single woman. For 4 to 5 days every month, and for half of her life, that makes it approximately 6 years in her entire life. Still, women have to pretend, in front of others that menstruation isn’t really a thing. And not only to the opposite gender but to members of the same sex. This leads to little girls thinking they are going to die when their first period arrives.
Can you imagine the amount of happiness a girl feels at the moment when she realizes she isn’t dying?
For her, there can’t be anything that can make her any less happy. At least that’s what she thought back then when she didn’t know about all the social restrictions which will be forced upon her. “I was not allowed to touch or eat pickles. I was not allowed to sit on the sofa or some other family member’s bed. I had to wash my bed sheet after every period, even if it was not stained. I was considered impure and forbidden for worshipping or touching any objects of religious importance,” said Aditi Gupta, during her Ted Talk. Aditi is a social entrepreneur and the Co-Founder of Menstrupedia, a foundation that works towards spreading awareness about menstruation. According to her research, 85% of Indian girls follow 1 or more such social restrictions. Which are forced upon them by an elder female member in their own homes.
We can’t really blame them, as that is how they have spent their lives. Keeping menstruation a secret, feeling they are impure during their period, and thinking they will pollute the water or cause someone bad luck if they don’t follow the social norms. Such myths can be easily overcome by the power of knowledge and making people come out of their shells. By making girls aware that there is nothing wrong with the changes going through their bodies. This won’t be easy when every time you drop your volume to a whisper talking about menstruation.
To normalize periods, which is considered taboo, we have to talk about it so when next time you speak about it, the conversation won’t turn awkward. Through her ‘Menstrupedia Comic’, Aditi is taking steps towards this goal, by creating awareness. Till now this comic has educated over 1.7 million girls in India. No matter how much a single person or an organization works towards a goal, it won’t change much unless each one of us, on an individual level, will do the simplest thing of speaking out about a process, which we always try to ignore.
Then only our young girls will be able to see menstruation not as a curse or a disease, but as a welcoming change in their lives, with full confidence.
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