Life is often metaphorically referred to as a race. Every individual begins with the green signal of birth and gradually moves towards the finishing line. Throughout this journey from birth to death, one factor that remains unaltered in everybody’s life is aging. As we transform from toddlers to adolescents, our boat of life is hit by various storms, one of the most conspicuous ones being puberty. Puberty creates a different impact on males and females. The most prominent manifestation of puberty among girls is the inception of the process of menstruation within them.
Menstruation is a phenomenon which everyone is well acquainted with. It is the regular discharge of blood from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina. In spite of it being a natural bodily process, menstruation continues to prevail as one of the most stigmatized topics, especially in India. Let us envisage a world, where all the prestigious positions that women hold today, were occupied by men. Where women were incapable of blossoming to their full potential, because they were forced to drop out of school at a young and tender age. In most parts of the world this only remains as an imaginary world. However, in a country like India, ostracizing of menstruation still remains a resentful reality. Periods have been associated with ignominious terms like dirty, unclean and shameful for a very long time now. Even though we live in an evolved and developed society, which is supposedly free from prejudice, menstruation is still eyed as a woman’s business, which needs to be dealt with surreptitiously. Even today, in many Indian communities, women are zeroed to extradition when they are menstruating.
As a girl child in India, the battle to overcome all the evil barriers like child marriage, lack of sanitation, lack of opportunities, begins at a very sensitive age. If she is able to conquer these challenges and set foot in an educational institution, her embryonic future is put at stake due to the shame surrounding her period. Studies have divulged that one hundred and thirteen million adolescent girls in India are subject to the risk of a jeopardized future because of dropping out of school. Most of the girls in rural areas decide to withdraw themselves from the hands of education, owing to the discomfiture that they face during their periods. Inadequacy of sanitary napkins, noxious and contaminated washrooms and deficiency of awareness about menstrual hygiene are some of the most ascendant factors that contribute to a restricted educational background for girls living in rural areas. Moreover, the forbidden character of menstruation fails to elicit any confabulation about the significance of menstrual hygiene, be it at home or at school. In many cultures it is believed that while menstruating, a woman’s body absolves negativity. These absurd beliefs compel a woman not only to think of herself but also her body as inferior. The banishment of women due to their monthly cycle has been a major factor in perpetuating a feeling of low self-esteem within women and leaving them in a dilapidated and under confident state.
In order to combat the issue of stigmatization of menstruation and miserable conditions of menstrual hygiene, it is imperative to first create an awareness among the society. Education and a better understanding of the menstrual cycle is essential so as to recuperate the health conditions of women. Young girls need to have access to clean toilets, and sanitary napkins. It is also necessary to create dialogue about the steps to an uplifted menstrual health and comfort. It is of utmost importance that we do not look at menstruation as any kind of a taboo, impurity or inferiority. Rather, it should be normalized and considered merely an inextricable part of the female life cycle. Breaking the silence about an issue is a sensible way of liberating it from the evil claws of stigma, and conceiving conversations about it, is the primary route to discovering rational solutions to it.
We need to free ourselves from our prudish attitude of talking about menstruation. Only when young girls are empowered to pursue their dreams without the existing taboos and enabled to garner the education that they are entitled to without the existing puritanical beliefs, can we nurture them into women who possess the skill and power, to be the change they want to witness in society.
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