Asha knew it was cancer. Rima thought she had a life-threatening disease. Sita on the other hand, thought she has sustained an injury from playing with the boys last evening.
The name of the girls have been changed. They live in Uttarakhand, go to progressive schools, and have siblings at home. Yet, their knowledge about menstruation was severely limited when the first onset struck them.
Talking about sexuality is taboo in India. By the same token, discussing ‘women issues’ such as menstruation, is embargo.
When I took up the topic with my mother, she blushed. She said something along the lines of being “impure” because an “ivory” inside me had broken.Asha
The cost of this “impurity” is tragic in India. Women are not allowed to enter kitchens, visit temples, touch pickles and are expected to dress in a certain way. According to a UNICEF report on menstrual health:
- 200 million women in India do not have knowledge of menstrual hygiene and its related safe practices.
- 88% of women in India use cloth, mud, and plastic.
- 14% of Indian girls suffer from menstrual infections.
- 60% of Indian girls change their menstrual cloth once a day.
- Only 12% of Indian women can afford a sanitary napkin.
Awareness and access to safe menstrual practices are two sides of the same coin and India ranks among the lowest in the world on both the quarters. If India ever wishes to be among the top nations in the world, it will have to take tiny steps in improving the health ecosystem provided to its women.
Waiving taxes on sanitary napkins is a healthy start and that’s what NGO She Says India has been asserting. Bigg Boss contestant and social media influencer Priya Malik joins the campaign and has the same appeal.
Do join the discussion and use #LahuKaLagaan to make your voice heard.
Editor: Hitesh Singh
Producers: Almas Khateeb and Garvita Khybri