“She was disgraced, when she wanted to be embraced. She was left alone, when she wanted to hold on. She just wanted to bleed in peace but bled the hues of impurities”.
On average a woman bleeds 13 times a year for almost 38 years. It is such a normal thing in a woman’s life. Nonetheless, menstruation is considered a taboo in various parts of India. Usually, conversations about periods become whispers in the ears. Discussion on menstruation is like communism or a horror story for people. It is considered impure and seen with disgust by society. Various euphemisms are used for menstruation in different households. Some call it ‘jump’ while some call it ‘periods’ or ‘chumming’. Women often feel humiliated if their clothes are stained with menstrual blood.
Sanitary pads, menstrual cups and tampons are sold in black plastic just to hide it from the world. The sale of this product is only between the buyer and the seller. Before the exchange of money and pads is an exchange of awkward looks. And suddenly the woman becomes the centre of the universe because she is menstruating. People around start smirking out of amusement as if an apple just dropped out of a banana tree. The reaction to menstruation has another level of amusement attached to it. The rationale behind the taboos that exist feels like statements of a 4-year old.
This brings in the need for menstruation to be normalized. Proper awareness and understanding of menstruation should be imparted among children at home and in schools. Mostly, boys or men are not educated about menstruation which leads to misperceptions on their part. Therefore, it is important to familiarise them with the natural processes associated with women’s bodies. Various myths that revolve around menstruation are, ‘period blood is impure and whatever a menstruating woman touches becomes impure’, ‘PMS is in your head’, ‘one shouldn’t exercise or swim while on her periods’, ‘a woman should not enter the temple when menstruating’, etc. However, none of these are true and therefore, it is important to demystify them.
Blemishing menstruation is a form of misogyny. Taboos as such reinforce the idea that menstruation is impure and conditions us to leave it that way. Women need to encourage each other to speak up on menstrual health, reproduction and periods freely and openly. Menstruation is not a crime and no woman should be ashamed of it. Those who believe in God should understand that women were created this way and God never intended menstruation to be impure. Religious texts came after menstruation and taboos and myths mentioned in those books are baseless.
“Stand up tall my love. This is what you must do when people tell you menstruation is dirty, impure, or that it makes you weaker than men, you must stand tall”.  Menstruation is not something to be disgraced by, instead violence, assault, torture, harassment, orthodox thinking and lack of knowledge are! If biological processes were to be impure then every non-living thing and living organism would have been impure! Fermentation would have impure, pregnancy would have been impure, formation of soil would have been impure and by the logic of impure blood, circulation system would have been impure!
The only impurity during menstruation is the way people perceive it. No one would ever be born if there wasn’t any system of menstruation. It balances the hormones necessary for reproduction in a woman’s body. Menstruation is a biological process, period!
. Barr, Rachel, A Special Journey, 2017, Pg. 11
Image source: uqora.com
Akshara Bhargava is an alma mater of Lady Shriram College. Currently, she is working as a Social Media and Content Creator at Martha Farrell Foundation.