From hashtag to global campaigns to workshops to even TV shows and films, a lot is being initiated every day by numerous people to break the menstrual taboo. Sharing stories/ experiences also helps to create awareness around these taboos. Lucify.ch speaks to some strong women and teenagers about their confrontation with such stigmas and how they deal with it.
“Do not sit near grandma… you are having your periods,” a 13-year girl was told by her mother at her menarche. The girl did not ask why. She had seen her elder siblings following the norms of the periods. She was supposedly impure during those days and was not allowed to touch the stuff, including her grandma.
As sad as it sounds, this used to be a common household story in India. Some families did not allow girls to enter the kitchen or temple during their periods, some stopped them from going out. Some girls were not allowed to enter even their parents’ bedroom. “I never got any education on menstruation while growing up. Once I went to my uncle’s village and got my periods. I was kept in isolation and was not allowed to touch anything in the house. There was not even a proper bathroom. I decided not to visit them ever as my protest against these taboos,” Kirti Malini Gadre shares her story with Lucify.ch. Kirti, now a Swiss resident, comes from the State of Maharashtra in India.
That was about 20 years ago. Periods’ norms are less stringent now. However, depending on the geographical location, social status, religious belief, and literacy level, majority of the households in India still follow some of these norms strictly. The good news is that the mindsets are changing mainly due to aggressive awareness campaigns both at school education levels and within the families.
People are no more embarrassed to talk about periods, especially the millennials and the Gen Z. They give two hoots about the period taboos. For most of them, menstruation is only a physical state and has absolutely nothing to do with the purity and impurity of a female body.
“It’s absurd because there is no science behind these taboos. These are really old traditional taboos that need to go. It will be great if we can create awareness to do away with them,” Rishi Chhapolia, 19, an Indian teenager, studying in the United States said. Angad, a young student from India, shares similar sentiments. “These stigmas are outdated and make no sense because the process of menstruation is extremely natural. There is nothing dirty or weird about it,” he said.
Menstruation myths, stigmas are deep-rooted in cultural practices and are followed by generation after generation. Even though it’s a good sign that everyone is opening up to talk about them, especially the younger generation, it may still take a while when menstruation is considered ‘normal’.