Menstruation is intrinsically related to human right. When people cannot access safe bathing, facilities (or safe anything), safe and effective means of managing their menstrual hygiene, they are not able to manage their menstruation with dignity.
Women and girls, as well as transgender men and non-binary person who menstruate, for them these menstruation-related exclusion, shame, humanitarian crises and the menstrual taboo can all turn menstruation into a time of deprivation and stigma, which can undermine their enjoyment of fundamental human rights.
By here I go to share my ‘Mahinabari story’.
My first day was super festive day and that was Krishna Janmashtami. The day I had I had my first period was Krishna Janmashtami, at my 15 age. And in my life that was the first day or festival I had fasted .
I had the feeling of cramp and pain but I thought it may be due fasting. So I ignored the cramp but could not ignore the cold leech thought on body. After a minute of examine, the blood was a lot more.
There I remember when I was nearing that age my Eeya (mommy) stated to control me, saying don’t run, don’t play like kids, don’t touch pickles or else it will be trashed and yeah most known to everyone Do not touch frames and utensils of God (you cannot worship and enter to temples) at the time of periods.
Then and there I made her clear and flashed on these myths talks. Lucky me I was not behaved too rude so far. From the beginning to date till I am free to touch anything, have anything, no any kind of restriction at all. Everything vanished except cramp, pain and traumas of menstruation.
Talking about my villages too, here is no such dark traditional of living in menstrual huts. Also, no girls-women sleeps outside her home, in a space cordoned off by sari when she has her periods. Sadly, they are still lacking income for sanitary pads and they end up using cotton clothes to absorb the blood flow.
But others women and girls noted same restrictions being lessened and modified in significant way, but they are still careful to maintain their religious purity and not sin by worshipping during menstruation.
This cultivated in them an early aversion, along receiving the raised eyebrows look and switch to their own work and pretend to listen to those taboos.
Initially I too encountered myself in the same situation a 7 years ago on my way of period. Yes, I was furious at that reaction. But what I also noticed was that, the reaction was demonstrated by several lady to lady in that zone. I kept quite and dwelled on it.
I then realized that, my Eeya in that zone was a special-needs person and this term means euphemism for separate, again the word ‘separate’ here link with special-need.
And the link between these two words shows the barrier which is a discrimination of us people (i.e. educated and known) and our respective elders (i.e. followers of ethics, taboos and seclusion). Those people there we’ve pushed them away instead having positive conversation regarding those taboos.
And in this way, we have harmed ourselves as well, so seek a balance that does not interfere their core beliefs on the place of shaming on them because our elders are not the creator, they are mere followers.
The restrictions on what we girls can do during menstruation, those are simply customs, beliefs, traditions and nothing to do with people’s actual abilities. Menstruating women can-and have-held leadership roles, marathons, served as judges and held religious offices.
No foods are off-limits to menstruating women and girls, actually dietary restrictions can put them at risk by limiting their nutrients intake.
Never brings the thought of menstruation indicates readiness for marriage, sexual activity or motherhood.
Most important there is clearly a dire need to talk about menstruation publicly because attitudes of family members shape adolescent girls’ future actions and beliefs on how menstrual health should be maintained.
There is actual need of deeper understandings on the issues that menstruating woman faces every month. Even micro-level steps could level-up the societal level.
(Yadav is currently a first year student pursuing B.A.LL.B at Kathmandu School of Law.)
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