Stigma of periods in India

“Hey, maybe I’ll come with you guys next time!”
“Oh no, I’ll wait outside the temple, you go!”
“Bhaiya, can I get, amm…never mind!”

It’s evidently unfortunate to relate these sentences with every woman that celebrates life. It’s disheartening to witness such casual and acceptable norms that confines every woman’s gift to have it in them to create wonders. Yes! It’s about how we as individuals are too shy to talk about Periods, and the necessities that come along with it. Instead, we choose to hide it within excuses, slip it under the covers, run from the very existence of it, and are proud to get over them every month without letting anyone know!

Trying to negotiate? Let’s look at some “Interesting” facts:
1. Sanitary napkins are still taxable in India nor is it considered an ‘Essential Commodity’. That’s right, you pay tax on menstrual hygiene products like sanitary napkins taxes that can be as high as 14.5 percent in some states
2. Only 12% of menstruating women in India have access to and regularly use sanitary napkins. The majority of women are forced to use rags, pieces of cloth, dried leaves and even old newspapers as absorbents.
3. Research shows that approximately 23% of adolescent girls drop out of school when they start menstruating and those who don’t usually miss up to 5 days of school every month. It worries me to read or write further, the shaking reality hidden behind the doors, trying to peak out of the windowpanes for hope, not knowing where to go!

The stinging fact is the truth that 66% of girls in India are not even talked to about embracing their womanhood, well, until they are shunned behind the “Hard truth” THIS is what periods mean to most of India today. This is what womanhood is seen as, and here we are marching for equality! Blunt, how much this may be, is the current stigma of periods in India of the “modern” times. Not only rural, but households of urban families see the same story in different ways where a girl is unable to tell her father or her brother that she is suffering immense period pain because our mothers have taught us to not reveal the embarrassing truth. But is it really a pleasant picture?

If the values that we imbibe and put forward to the coming generations, look down upon their very existence, then it’s a depressing world we live in! Let’s break the fact that the red spot on the pants is something to be ashamed of. Let’s take care of our own selves as we go through the beautiful cycle of life every month, and next time if someone asks, “what’s up with you?” Lets just say, “Hey man! Periods.” and smile.

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