Sushmita Das is an Engineer & Writer (Women Empowerment and Social Justice).
Seven Days – De-stigmatize!
God has created many forms of life on the planet Earth and who knows perhaps outside as well. Some are insects, animals, reptiles, birds, and finally the complex creature is the “human beings” which are further divided on the basis of gender, specifically, – Man and Woman. Did I write woman ?? Oh yes, you read it right, God has created “Woman”! How is a man different from a woman? People would say their physical appearance. Are we missing out on any other major factor to differentiate them in biological terms? Many would back out from uttering the term “Menstrual Cycle”. Have we ever thought about de-stigmatizing this term?
1.Bearing the Pain
2. Fear of Stain
3. Experiencing Agitation
4. Handling the Stress
5. Episodes of Dizziness
6. Difficulty in walking
7. Dealing with Hygiene
That’s what she goes through every month for seven continuous days
We have modernized ourselves almost in every field of our lives, yet this section of discussing the biological cycle is still untouched and unfinished like the last module of our syllabus a day before the exam. But the question arises “why?”
Even at the age of 22, a woman is not able to talk about her biological state openly with her male friends, father, and anyone who is of opposite gender. She still feels shy while asking for a packet of sanitary napkins from a medical store in the presence of other people.
The answer lies in our centuries-old belief systems and culturally driven factors.
In India, there are few temples where women in the age group of 10-48 are prohibited from entering the temple, the fortunate part of this fact is that many tried to go against this misogyny but couldn’t win against those prejudiced mindsets.
Another incident that took place a few days ago during this ongoing pandemic, where the public servant faced implicit prohibition while distributing sanitary napkins in a rural part of a country.
Girls and women cannot utter the term ” menstrual flow” even among themselves, they rather use very weird sounding words like “code red, girls flu, bloody mary, lady business, the curse” and whatnot!! whichever word could hide the exact term and conceal it with an absurd code as in they are being used to counter an enemy on the battlefield.
This is another factor that affects the life of a woman to a great extent. Due to lack of toilets, and proper hygiene, millions of girls have to withdraw themselves from the schools.
Below is a figure which depicts the exact numbers which tell us how backward we are even after progressing so much in technology. We have invented the “supercomputers” but what about the health and hygiene of the one who has to sacrifice so much in the long run of her life.
Those seven days give her physical pain but what about the psychological strain that costs her a lot?
During those seven days, she has to bear the pain that’s true but along with that, she has to face the discriminatory so-called “rules” also.
1. You cannot look at the people’, they will fall sick
2. You cannot touch the food, it will rot
3. You have to stay in isolation
And many more societal norms which abstain women and girls to live their lives with full-fledged rights.
All these biased norms push them into a psychological state where at some point in their life they feel “why am I a girl?” “Am I cursed ?” “Can’t I live a life with dignity?” “I wish I were a man”!! This psychological conflict continues to degrade her confidence unless she is supported by a bold and confident woman who makes her realize that it’s a biological process just like any other process which takes place in our body be it digestion or respiration the difference is that unlike other processes it gets over in 5-7days every month.
Responsibility for Men
Like women, men also play major roles in their journey of life. Be it of a son, brother, friend, husband, father, or grandfather. You can support your mother and sister, by helping them out during those seven days, if you are a husband you can become an anchor for her, if you are a father you should talk to your daughter openly regarding menstruation and also teach her how to cope with it and also boost her morale and de-stigmatize this particular biological process which occurs in the life of a woman.
Collectively we all can come out of our comfort zone of discussion and talk about it firmly.
Even I being a student of biology, used to feel shy and shameful while talking about menstrual flow and I know the reason as well. It was our ” society” which made my thought process stigmatize this simple biological phenomenon.