Mental hygiene and menstruation
Menstrual hygiene management is about simply making sure that women and girls can safely and hygienically...
Menstrual hygiene management is about simply making sure that women and girls can safely and hygienically manage their monthly periods with confidence and dignity. A big part of this management, then, is about changing the mindset towards menstruation by dispelling doubts and removing misconceptions around periods.
The shame, stigma and misinformation related to menstruation is disrupting the lives of millions of women and girls. Even today women and girls are confined to one room and served food there during their period. They are considered to be 'polluting', 'dirty' and 'impure'. These notions have had a deep impact on the psyche of women.
False, harmful ideas and practices around this natural and beautiful phenomenon that is responsible for the genesis of life itself, continues to impede the everyday lives of millions of women and girls in India.
From having them drop out of school to confining them within the household, taboos, lack of awareness and poverty continue to play a significant role in disempowering women. I have come across numerous women who consider themselves as being 'contaminated' and 'dirty' during menstruation. Very few questions this belief.
A woman is not impure in anyway. There is hardly any activity that women can't do while they are experiencing menstruation. They can lead perfectly normal lives, be fully functional, play sport and even go for a swim if they use tampons. I want to tell people who say that a woman is impure during her periods, that menstruation is a normal, essential, biological process.
Educating girls before their first period — and, importantly, boys — on menstruation, builds their confidence, contributes to social solidarity and encourages healthy habits. Such information should be provided at home and at school.
Menstruation does not lead to impurity. Impurity only lies in the minds of men and women. Blood cannot be impure; it runs in your veins. Do you hate yourself for it? What is impurity? Is it in your body or mind? Anger, jealousy, hatred, ignorance — these are impurities. If you have an impure mind, then, whether you are a man or a woman, you are impure.
The absurdity of superstitions in India becomes apparent in several ways; just one of them is when a woman is told not to touch pickles during her period as they may get spoilt. This is an absolutely unscientific belief.
Do women ooze germs during their menses that the pickle will go bad? The blood coursing in the veins of men and women is not different. If someone is hurt and he bleeds, what do you do? You clean the wound and bandage it. No one says that the person should not be touched as he is bleeding and, therefore, impure.
A woman's first moral duty is towards herself. She should keep her body and mind in good health. Stress, hormonal changes and lack of self-development are some reasons that prevent women from being healthy.
Girls and women with disabilities and special needs face additional challenges with menstrual hygiene and are affected disproportionately with lack of access to toilets with water and materials to manage their period.