What simmers in your mind whenever you hear the word "periods"? Most probably it connotes a subtle fear to be veiled, oppressed and completely expunged from the humdrum of everyday conversations. And that is exactly where the conflict between women’s issue and societal taboo kicks in, that’s where we are again plunged into the fix of raucous cries for an egalitarian society and the hypocrisy it upholds.
According to a report of the US National Library of Medicine, over 800 million adolescent girls and women worldwide are menstruating on any given day. Menstrual aged girls and women (12 to 49 years) represent a significant and growing portion of the 1.2 billion women employed globally, with women representing nearly half of the global labour market. Considering this significant contribution of menstruating women to the labour force globally, governments across the world must discard their insouciance and take active remedial steps to foster awareness regarding menstruation.
In India, have you ever thought about why sanitary napkins are still sold in black packets? Menstruation is still regarded as a taboo held sacrosanct by the blindfolded tradition-bound Indian society. Absolute ignorance, lack of sanitary pads, ambiguity towards the need for hygienic menstrual waste disposal coupled with governmental apathy have further vilified this sensitive conundrum. The materials used during this menstrual period range from plant leaves, soft straw to insanitary clothes which are washed and reused in many cases. Their choice of materials depends on various socio-economic factors hinging on it like social acceptability, economic viability, educational and marital status and so on.
Apart from these backlogs, these menstruating masses are confronted with diatribes from their male-dominated counterparts and have to endure the constant pressure of veiling their feminity. Hurled insults at, abused and alienated from the mainstream of life, estranged in isolation in many cases to avoid “contaminating” surroundings as they bleed impure blood, these victims are almost ravaged amidst this cacophony of external pressures.
Besides, it increases their psychological vulnerabilities and tarnishes their dignity into an inferior one. Under the tutelage of the orthodox society, most women are deprived of the appropriate knowledge of modern menstrual products like sanitary pads, reusable menstrual cups, tampons and so on. Hence, unsanitary disposal of menstrual materials and unplanned facilities amplify the sanitation issue.
It’s no longer an issue just to be confronted at the premises of the Sabarimala, it’s the very regressive system that fails people like you and me every day and estranges us from our dignity. What is needed is a concerted effort on the part of the government, women activist groups and society to normalize menstruation in the mainstream instead of having the effrontery to shield the issue from public discourse without realizing its temerarious consequences. Only when the question of pure v/s impure, blood v/s sanctity fades into oblivion, can we revere the blood of our mothers and sisters which flows relentlessly to usher in the blood of the generations to come.