It goes back to 2004 when I first learnt about Menstruation. I was distraught with the sudden bodily changes. Inconsolable, I cried for days for the biological discrimination I will have to live with, most of my life. If the realization wasn’t enough, what followed was devastating.
I am an urban Indian woman. Privileged enough to afford sanitary pads and educated enough to protest against the stigma attached to a natural process, but many of my fellow citizens are not. About 70% women in India cannot afford sanitary pads; they resort to cloths, husk and ash. Lack of hygiene and vulnerability to diseases is rife, but what’s worse is the taboo associated with it.
A menstruating woman is considered impure. She cannot enter the kitchen, cannot cook and cannot touch the male members of the house, for the fear of polluting them. The levels of extremities differ, but it crosses all limits of sanity when women are thrown away in cow sheds.
These restrictions trace their roots to many religions namely Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. They prohibit women from performing daily tasks, systematically deprives them of equality and labels them as unfit.
Menstruation is unmentionable not just in particular African and Asian countries, but also in the western society. While youngsters are at ease discussing the dynamics of sexuality, menstruation is carefully avoided only to be discussed by female behind closed doors. An issue we don’t fancy hearing about, lest discuss.
In a bizarre of a situation we have simply sidelined an important and intricate phenomenon to the wimps of religious convulsion.This blatant discrimination by the virtue of anatomy is appalling and the fact that it’s religiously sanctioned makes it very difficult to counter.
The silent treatment has acutely misled the reception of menstruation among women. Rather than advent of womanhood, it is marked as beginning of a difficult and extraneous times. We keenly speak against all sorts of discrimination, assert our rights, fight for equality, but continue to turn a blind eye to this very important issue.
As a Hindu woman, I was made aware of the religious sanctions early in life. While I was not thrown away in a trench, I have been treated like an untouchable in my own house on many religious and auspicious occasions.
In our vociferous struggle and feminist assertions, there is apathy towards self-worth. The needless shame inflicted on women in the name of religion is reprehensible, but what’s dreadful is that women choose to peacefully live with it. They accept the prescribed code of conduct, and religiously adhere to it.
The role of menstruation at the heart of reproductory cycle calls for greater sensitivity towards this biological phenomenon. It should not be precluded from public discourse and discussed more frequently, if circumstances are to change.
Published in The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/shweta-kothari/we-must-talk-about-menstruation_b_5016701.html