Menstrual Hygiene in India- Breaking the Silence on the Taboo

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Mensturation Hygiene

73 years have passed since Independence and India has made massive growth and progress in infrastructure and economy. Our GDP grew from 56,330 billion (2011- 2012) to 1,40,776 billion (2018-2019) and the literacy rate accounts for 74.4% which surely gives a glimpse of our growth and development. But, is India actually developing?

Even with such a high literacy rate, it’s surprising that about 71% of young girls in India are still unaware of menstrual hygiene and neither are they informed. Hence, on getting their very first period they think they have a deadly disease and are about to die. 57% of girls drop their schooling after reaching puberty. Out of 355 million menstruating women in India, only 12% of women are exposed to sanitary napkins.  88% of women are not able to afford basic hygiene and rather go for un-sanitized cloth, ashes, and husk-sand. This increase about 70% chances of reproductive tract infections and even deaths.

Adding to it, Sanitary napkins have a GST rate of 12% where condoms have no GST tax. Thus it gives a clear indication- it is free to have sex but it will cost if you will bleed.  Hence women being unable to afford those sanitary napkins have no other options than dangering their lives. Makes sense? Menstruation Myths Still, in the 21st century, man-made mosques and temples are getting more attention than women’s hygiene. In India, every year about 70,000 women suffer from cervical cancer caused due to insufficient menstrual hygiene. Also, India ranks the highest in cancer cases in women. Don’t you think it’s high time to do something about it?

Why is Menstruation Still considered Taboo?

Menstruation is a natural and healthy part of a girl’s life. In a simple way, it is a part of the menstrual cycle where the female’s body prepares itself for the potential pregnancy. The common symptoms of Menstruation are Mood Swings, Headache, Acne, Bloating, Stomach, and Back Pain. Those 5 days period of pain is literally the worst pain any human can experience besides pregnancy. Yet, Girls and Women in India go through extreme struggles during those days due to lack of basic facilities and care especially in rural areas. Girls are still taught to avoid topics related to Menstruation in public, informing them about Menstrual hygiene is far from reality. Some of the most common things Girls here every month during their period are:

“Menstruation is a shame- you should hide it. You are impure those 5 days, you should not go to the temple. Do no enter Kitchen and don’t touch elderly members in the family.”

People are not ready to accept its existence and how deadly it can be if neglected. The red stain on her cloth grabs much more attention than her aches. Her pains and all those hassles she faces during those 5 bleeding days. She carries an extra pad more to protect herself from embarrassment. Worshiping Devi (goddess) will go in vain if you really don’t support and care for the women in your home. Menstruation Menstruation is not a subject to mock upon, it is the origin. There would have been no creation of the world if her vagina would have not bled, neither would I have written this nor you would have been able to read. Menstruation hygiene is a neglected reality and not a debatable topic. Here, when you are still reading this, thousands of girls/ women are dying in silence because they are taught not to talk. India will really be called a developed country only when:

  • Every girl will get equal care and facilities during those periods.
  • Girls will be able to talk freely about menstruation without shame and embarrassment.
  • Every woman gets exposed to sanitary napkins and hygiene.
  • She doesn’t need to hide her period stain on her dress.
  • Sanitary napkins are not sold wrapped in black poly bags and newspapers.
  • She will be allowed to enter the kitchen of her own during those 5 days.
  • She can proudly enter any Temple.

“Sanitary napkins are not a luxury rather a need. we bleed because of nature not because of choice”

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