Let’s start with a fact universally known: Every single healthy female in the history of mankind has or had a menstrual flow. Every month, the uterus of women discards its endometrium, releasing a flow of blood through her genital.
Periods and Stigma
The process of menstruation is as essential, natural and ordinary as dozing or chewing, but we as a society have over hyped it in every possible way we can. It is pretty ironic how in some parts of country, the first menstruation is celebrated, it is considered as the transformation process of a girl into a woman.
Suddenly, the same celebrated process, the menstrual cycle, turns into something disgusting, something we don’t talk about loud, and even if we do, only in hushed voices and behind closed doors.
When we go to buy sanitary napkins or tampons the shopkeeper somehow makes an assumption that we are too ashamed and don’t want the world to know we are buying something even remotely related to periods, he double packs it, once in a newspaper and then hides it in the darkness of a black polyethene, and what amuses me the most is, more often than not, they are not even asked to take that much pain.
There’s a list of do’s and Dont’s every woman is expected to abide by, “don’t enter the temple”, “Don’t talk about it” “don’t enter the kitchen”, AND “whatever you do, never at any cost, let any stain of your period show (even if you don’t have control over it.), never leave a stain, your husband can leave the stains of paan on walls, that rather looks artistic and pretty but you dare not leave stains of a completely natural and biological process which helps create life, because if you do, the hell can break lose.”
70 school going girls Striped in the hostel by principal/warden to check if they were menstruating.
Yes, leaving any stain or mark of your period can make all hell break lose, and it can go as low as the principal of your school stripping you naked to check if you are the one to leave that stain. Something similar happened in Muzzafarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, where the Principal of a residential school, Kasturba Gandhi residential School, forced the students to take off their clothes as she was enraged after finding some remains of menstrual blood in the bathroom and wanted to know who was responsible for the said remains.the investigation has begun and the incident is being broadly criticized.
But is the investigation and criticism enough? No, it’s not. This is not the first incident of its kind and neither will it be the last, unless we take a step towards removing the stigma attached to periods and it can only be done by defying the taboo of periods and educating oneself to respect, or at the very least, not despise the natural process of menstrual flow.