Menstruation is a natural and healthy part of a woman’s reproductive system. However, it has always surrounded by taboos and myths that exclude women from many aspects of socio-cultural life. In many parts of the world, Menstruation Taboos involves a perception that it is embarrassing, unclean, or inhibiting even the mention of it, whether in public or close proximity.
Myths about Periods in Asian Countries
Periods are vital to the continuity of the human race, but myths and misconceptions still dominate. In the region of South Asia, the practices vary from culture to culture, and there is a stark contrast between urban and rural societies.
In many parts of Pakistan and India, women cannot enter the kitchen and worship places. They are also not allowed to touch sour foods like pickles as they believe that during menstruation, the body emits some specific smell or ray, which turns preserved food bad. Moreover, women cannot interact with or touch men because men will become sick by touching an “unclean” woman.
In Nepal, women are banished from their houses to ‘Chhaupadi Goth’ roughly translating to menstruation huts, while in Afghanistan, during the week a woman has her period, she cannot wash or shower or she will “Gazag” meaning to become infertile.
The Period Stigma
Women, instead of seeing menstruation as a powerful indicator of well-being, are taught to shun it. Even mere mention of the topic has been taboo. Nearly every woman will have experienced this feeling at some point in their lives; they need to hide a sanitary product or lie about why they’re feeling unwell. Muslim women are exempted from religious duties, so, during period days, they are expected to pretend that they had already prayed or lie and say that I am fasting if a man were to ask.
If it’s a healthy part of a women’s body, then why women are suffering from period stigma?
Educate yourself and Break Menstruation Taboos
There are many campaigns on the national and international levels to break the menstrual taboos, but we forget to give basic education to our children. We cannot blame grown men and women because they were not provided with the basic and reliable information about periods. So parents should make sure to talk to their sons too, and slowly build on their child’s understanding.
By the time they’re 8 or 9 years old, most kids can understand the basics of periods. Look for a natural moment to talk to them, such as:
1. When kids ask about puberty or changing bodies
2. If your child asks where babies come from
3. If you’re at the store buying pads or tampons
It might seem weird or unusual, but I swear to talk to your children solves a lot of problems. If you feel uncomfortable talking with your kids about periods, make sure they get this basic information. Maybe watching a video or reading a book together would be easy.
A great responsibility is on mothers because if you do not feel comfortable and remain unaware of your anatomy then how can you pass it on to your daughters and discuss it with your sons? Ultimately, you will also end up in the above-mentioned taboos.
Be Good to the Girls Around you and Normalize menstruation.
No doubt, great responsibly lies on the girl to care for herself. But what is a big deal when a father makes a decent cup of tea for her daughter on period? What if a brother gives a bottle of warm water to soothe her sister’s nightmarish cramps? What if a husband goes and buys sanitary pads for her wife?
There is no need to feel shame in seeing billboards and TV ads containing sanitary pads and period awareness when we can see the walls painted with the flaunted ads of Mardana Kamzori (Male infertility problems). There is no shame to watch flawless movies like “Padman,” “Period–End of Sentence,” and “The story of Menstruation” when we can watch n*des, p*rn, and adult content in Netflix series.
If menstrual taboos persist and society continues to devalue women’s fundamental biology, what hope do they have of ever seen as equal?”
It’s high time we speak openly about menstruation. I think talking and writing about it freely, is the only way we’ll get with these menstruation taboos. I must say,
I bleed. Deal with it.