There is a great taboo which comes associated with the term ‘Menstruation’, also referred as period, which is a phenomenon that the nature has planned for women. Women who have hit puberty undergo certain reproductive changes from the onset of menstruation (menarche) till the end called as menopause. In several rural areas, women are considered as untouchables and are prohibited to do various things during this time. Also, research suggests that many girls and women suffer from diseases that are caused due to improper hygiene which is ultimately because of lack of knowledge.
Commencement of many menstrual hygiene workshops is now happening, and we have improved it to certain extent yet there is a long way to cover. Movies like Padman have also targeted the similar subject and have eradicated this issue up to a certain extent. But what really need to be targeted upon are the young minds and students as they are the building block. Keeping this in mind, FairGaze also approaches to school students and conducts menstrual hygiene workshops there. One of the recent workshops related to this was held on 29th August’19 by Mr. Niraj Gera, social activist.
Menstruation, especially in India is surrounded by an array of psychological and religious barriers due to high illiteracy and lack of knowledge regarding menstruation. Although it is a natural process, it is associated with several practices and perceptions within the community. This results in adverse health results. While reviewing our past literature's and articles, it was found that the biggest hindrance that comes in the path of menstrual hygiene is little, inaccurate and incomplete knowledge. Girls and women have little or no knowledge about infections caused in reproductive tract. This is due to improper teachings in our education system.
In majority of rural areas, women either have little knowledge or if they have then they do not have access to proper products and methods of using that knowledge. Also, many of the products are not cost effective. So, they commonly rely on reusable cloth pads which they use again and again.
Sanitation is another aspect which comes along with this, Women and girls manage menstruation and its hygiene differently when they are at their homes or outside; researches suggest that a high percentage of choking is seen due to improper disposal of menstrual waste. So, there is a great need to educate and make young minds aware about the health hazards and environmental pollution associated with menstruation.
Due to shyness and embarrassment these situations sometimes become worse for girls. Menstruation is a basic and completely natural process like other human body phenomenon but it is still a taboo in our Indian society as it’s considered unclean and dirty.
Women have developed their own personal strategies to handle this period of time. If we check globally, these strategies vary greatly due to the personal preferences, availability of resources, economic status, cultural traditions and beliefs, education status, and knowledge about menstruation. Several practices related to menstrual hygiene are of major concern as it largely impacts our health.
There are several cultural Beliefs and restrictions that come during Menstruation. Menstrual beliefs have always referred to misconceptions and attitudes towards menstruation which is within a given culture or religion. Many women experience restrictions on cooking in the kitchen, work activities and also while entering in temples. These restrictions were caused due to the overall perception of the general people that menstruation is dirty and polluting.
The story doesn’t stops here as in some parts of the country there were also restrictions on bathing and a taboo that is against burial of menstrual cloth. From all these beliefs, it is very much clear that education plays a major role in menstruation hygiene management and these situations can be eradicated by educating both men and women.
Lack of appropriate disposal of used menstrual items lacks in many parts of the country. Most of the countries have now developed various unique techniques to manage their fecal and urinary wastes but still due to lack of menstrual management practices have lack of appropriate services.
In many slum areas, women dispose of their menstrual waste into pits as for them burning and burial conflicted with their personal space. In some developed schools, incinerators or “feminine hygiene bins” are now used for disposing of menstrual waste materials.
Incineration is a way better and useful technique that disposes of menstrual waste. It should also be kept in mind that burning of pads further releases harmful gases which affect our health and environment. Burning of inorganic material at low temperatures releases dioxins which are very toxic and also carcinogenic in nature.
By: Prerana Sharma
Posted By - Assistant Editor