13 March 2021 •  Excerpt #Essay

Her Life. Period.

QUICK BITE - From an early age, girls learn to live with the pain and fear and seldom do we see a girl seek help when in physical or mental discomfort due to periods.

“Oh my God! What is happening to me? Why is there a blood stain down there, oh my! I have an unbearable pain in my stomach. What is happening to me? Am I dying? What! I got my first periods, and it’s normal to have them? No, this is a nightmare.”
Every day, girls around the world experience their first menstrual cycle. A period is a natural and healthy part of a woman’s reproductive health. For those who are equipped with information, hygiene products, and a supportive community, their first period can be exciting, so much so it is also celebrated like a feast in many countries. For other girls, their first period is a nightmare. It’s because they never had someone to explain to them what menstruation is and how their bodies will change during puberty. Some girls even think they are dying when they see their own menstrual blood for the first time. Around the world, period taboos and resource limitations prevent girls from managing their periods with dignity.


Discrimination against menstruating women is widespread in India, where periods have long been a taboo and been considered impure. Women are often excluded from social and religious events, denied entry into temples and shrines and even kept out of kitchens. About 71% of adolescent girls in India are unaware of menstruation until they get it themselves, this is because parents rarely prepare their daughters for something they know is bound to happen. And this unpreparedness leads to so much avoidable fear and anxiety.
The difficulty in accessing sanitary pads and maintaining proper hygiene is another major issue. India scrapped a 12% tax on sanitary products in 2018 after months of campaigning by activists. Campaigners had argued that menstrual hygiene products were not a luxury and periods were not a choice that a woman could simply opt out of. However, tax exemption is only a small step towards a much longer journey of making menstrual health and hygiene an accessible reality for every woman in the country. Do you know how many menstruating women actually use sanitary napkins in India? Only 36% of India's 355 million menstruating females use sanitary napkins, while the rest use old rags, husk, ash, leaves, mud and soil and other such life-threatening materials to manage their flow.
From an early age, girls learn to live with the pain and fear and seldom do we see a girl seek help when in physical or mental discomfort due to periods. But with a surge in the use of social media in recent years, women have begun sharing their stories about menstruation too. Yet this freedom is often questioned and those sharing their stories are threatened with bans, while trolls who indulge in moral policing and shaming women go scot-free.
It's time to not silence women with shame, but give them the freedom and knowledge to deal with the pain. Social media is a powerful tool and it should be used to spread positivity and awareness among the people. It is time we realize that menstruation is just a biological process and the secrecy surrounding it must go. We need to normalize menstruation and destroy taboos around this natural process.
After all, talking is all it takes to begin a transformation and it's time we do it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cezarinha Fernandes

TYBBA

Cezarinha is a simple girl who loves expressing herself. Confident and vocal about her opinions, talking, acting (particularly in tiatr) and giving speeches are some of the things she enjoys doing. She believes that sometimes you just need to breathe, trust and let go because when you do your best, God will always be there to do the rest.


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