Period and Women Empowerment: Talk about Period | Chapter 1

This picture appeared when I was about to text 'menstruation':The blood drop emoji is the result of a campaign led by girls' rights group Plan International UK backed by 55,000 people, which set out to smash the silence and stigma surrounding menstruation by bringing a period emoji to global smartphone keyboards.

I was taught in class that MENSTRUATION is the monthly discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from uterus. However, being born in Nepal, my menstruation started with confusion. Confusion no.1, I didn`t know what was going down there that was making me so wet and uncomfortable. Confusion no.2, When I went to buy pads the shopkeeper wrapped it in the newspaper, I could  see aunties washing their clothes separately, drying it piling another cloth over it then I thought this is a matter to be ‘secret’ but when my mom told me to stay in my relative`s home for 15 days , she was not keeping ‘secret’ here. Confusion no.3, if I see the sun, sun god will curse me; if I see my father or brother, their life will be shortened and I will be doing sin; if I touch ‘tulsi’ (holy basil) then plant`ll die then I thought I had some superpower… but I could`t free myself labelling from ‘untouchable’, so sad. If I don`t follow these rules and regulations my family will go through misfortunes, wait, isn`t it anything anyone throughout life has to go through whichever religion they follow and how much they maintain the rules? National survey revealed that 57.6% of women go through certain kind of restrictions, 25% of women are forced to stay separately as ‘chauppadi’ making them vulnerable to animal attacks, rape, nutritional deficiencies etc.

 

‘Yatra nari astu pujante ramte tatra devata’, ’on the country which believes ‘GOD RESIDES WHERE WOMEN IS WORSHIPPED’ I should feel ashamed of talking about period, I am the ‘untouchable’, the ‘impure’ though it`s the thing that makes me a ‘woman’. I don`t remember skipping any ‘Dashain’ considering Goddess Durga turned ‘untouchable’. My mother said it is written in religious book. Being curious, I found that these books were written by males from their own perspective to get rid of bad odor and poor sanitation. Nepali women bathe in rivers for purification during Rishi Panchami festival. Certain rules and regulations were set for the women, and they had to follow those rules during the menstruation phase, failing which they acquire Rajaswala Dosha. By performing Rishi Panchami Vrata, women could get rid of Rajaswala Dosha. I would be glad if people realize it was written to have discipline to maintain menstrual hygiene in the name of tradition but ALAS! Religious books are guidelines to society which are very scientific in many cases but why we don`t go for reasoning but tame blind faith, it`s like constitution, right? Surely it can be amended according to need and situation.

I would like to share my experience, when I menstruated for the first time, I was sent to my relative`s house, I was feeling very shy and nervous, I felt like I grew up too soon than my friends that really bothered me, I was constantly feeling, why me? Why this early? Since I was forbidden to enter kitchen, I remember my  hungry stomach days and dehydration, I couldn`t seek help from male member as well. My mother wants me to hand over this tradition as well because she won`t like hearing any question regarding ‘her nurturing to make me bride-ready’ in front of my in -laws.

People in village considered girls that they have grown up after menarche  so  there is high prevalence of ‘early marriage’ and large school dropouts. The tendency of sending girl`s in relative`s house, in dark rooms, in ‘chhau goths’(cowsheds or small huts away from home), many girls result in school absentism,  low academic grades, low confidence, rapes, snake bites, pneumonia, poor hygiene, nutritional deficiency, low employment opportunity and ultimately low health, education and financial status,limiting the ability of women to fully participate in social activities leading them always being treated as ‘second gender’ in society. I remember missing many events because of stain problems, period cramps and burden of constant asking friends to check my skirts during school. I truly advocate that girls from Nepal are lagging in world race because of this small issue of ‘menstruation’ and followed by  afterwards procedure and stigmatization . I expect to see that world where no woman feels ‘period’ as a burden rather as a blessing to mankind. And ‘Menstrual Hygiene’ is not our privilege, it`s every woman`s right.