“Precisely what menstruation is, is not yet very well known.” – G Stanley Hall
Is menstruation it a curse or a blessing ? Every girl at some point asks herself this question when she realizes that a part of her natural process is a social taboo. Yes, menstruation cycle or periods in India are still a less spoken, shameful word not only for men but also women.
A process of shedding blood that also becomes the feeding blood for an unborn child is ironically considered as impure. We all wish to get on with our generations but we forget that this blood cycle is what makes it possible. Biologically, periods is a blessing in disguise, for it becomes the reason a woman feels the bliss of being a mother. Yes, every girl would know the pain its brings along every month but then it’s all worth it. Unfortunately, our society finds this process impure and a curse. Girls are always told not to enter the kitchen, not to visit temples or religious places and stay isolated. In many villages, they are to sit in a separate room for 5 days and are not allowed to enter the house before the bleeding stops. No matter to what extent it pains, they are not allowed to speak about it publicly. Ironically, a condom is bought without any shame but a sanitary napkin, wrapped in a black carry bag. A napkin that adds to the hygiene of a woman is so secretive that some girls don’t buy it if they find a male shopkeeper.
We are heading towards modernization and woman empowerment but it’s not hidden that even today many girls use dirty handkerchiefs. People wrapped in their superstitions, find using sanitary napkins a shameful activity. This causes various diseases where women can’t conceive or even die due to unhygienic handkerchiefs. In situations like this people now need to talk about periods and it’s hygiene. It is necessary to make people aware that it is not a social taboo. We cannot simply let our girls feel shameful about their body and it’s processes. When we talk about this topic, we owe because our government for taking an initiative that has deep roots and is making everyone proud.
While I was waiting to board flight at Kolkata Airport, I noticed that the women washroom had a Sanitary Napkin Vending Machine installed. It was just ₹5 for one or two pads. The machine capacity was 40 sanitary napkins and varies accordingly at different airports. The same kind of machines are now installed at Delhi and Lucknow airports as well. The Airport Authority of India holds responsibility of this initiative and has received constant support from the Centre. When I researched about it, I realized that such machines are also installed at railway stations across the country. Bhopal, being the first one to have this machine on its station, followed by Ludhiana, Andhra Pradesh and many more. This initiative begun by Railway Woman’s Welfare Central Organization aimed at installing eco-friendly sanitary napkin machines in almost 200 major railway stations.
Yes, it’s true that the work has been done with full effort. Feedback tell that the machines not only benefit emergency demands of pads but also see women from nearby slum areas coming to take the napkins. It tells that women who probably can’t afford a quality sanitary napkin packet, come to the stations and seek 2 pads for ₹5. This initiative has educated women about their personal hygiene. Also the authorities have decided to install incinerators with the machines for proper disposal of used napkins. As per reports, the Bhopal machine saw a usage of 2000 pads in three days. That itself tells how grave is a woman’s need.
There are many women who feel shame in buying pads or are below poverty line to afford it. They have spent their entire lives using dirty napkins and following unnecessary rituals. But with changing times and growing education system, they wish to keep their daughters safe and hygienic. They now realize that one sanitary napkin can save her life and give her the wings to fly without fear.
With the help of such machines installed on railway stations and airports, women fearlessly go and take the necessary amount of pads.
Men also should realize that they owe a responsibility to their wives, daughters, sisters and mothers to look after their hygiene. It is a joint effort and everybody should work towards it. Instead of being ashamed of periods, be ashamed of rape. Instead of being angry about the use of pads, be angry about using abortion methods when you can’t owe responsibility of the child. It is appreciable to the core that the country is focusing towards this issue and I’m a supporter always.
Let’s make India proud of menstruation. Girls, be proud, stay hygienic, visit temples for God would never find you impure for the blood that nourishes your womb in pregnancy.