Why Period is a Taboo?
Why don’t we call periods by its name?
Menstrual periods are both a mundane fact of life and an oddly under-discussed subject. We often use several euphemisms to use the word period. It is considered as a cultural taboo and women feel uncomfortable opening about the same. Each religion has their different rules of menstruation but are united by a single verse which suggest that women are impure while on periods. In Judaism, a woman during menstruation is called “niddah” and may be banned from certain actions. A verse in Quran goes like:
And they ask you about menstruation; Say It is harm, so keep away from women during menstruation; And do not approach them until they become pure And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allah has ordained for you; Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves. Your women are your tilth, so come to your tilth as you wish and put forth for yourselves; and fear Allah and know that you will meet Him; and give good tidings to the believers.
In Buddhism -Theravada or Hinayana menstruation is viewed as “a natural physical excretion that women have to go through on a monthly basis, nothing more or less”. However, in certain branches of Japanese Buddhism, menstruating women are banned from attending temples. In Hinduism, menstruating women are traditionally advised rules to follow. During menstruation, women are advised not to “enter temple, work in kitchen, wear flowers, have sex, touch other males or females, or come in contact with any creative energies to ensure free flow of Apana.” Woman’s menstrual blood is considered to be impure in several important Jain texts. So you see even the holy books have something to say. This taboo is sort of even pre language, Menstruation, after all, far predates language. People feel ashamed talking about it openly, even in schools teachers skip the chapters related to periods. Girls today get their first period while being in sixth or seventh standard yet our curriculum introduce it in eighth standard. In India, 23 million girls drop out of school early when they start menstruating and many of them end up facing acute health problems. A 2014 UNICEF report pointed out that in Tamil Nadu, 79 per cent girls and women were unaware of menstrual hygiene practices, the percentage was 66% in Uttar Pradesh, 56% in Rajasthan and 51% in West Bengal. Only 12% of women and girls in India has access to sanitary napkins and the rest 88% still uses unhygienic ways like rags. And even above this statistics, the more shocking is that out of every 10 girls 3 stay unaware about periods when they first gets it and in Rajasthan it goes to 9 out of 10. This lack of awareness further complicates it more for young girls to accept the change going inside their own bodies. The norms, restrictions and rules they start hearing from the very early stage, gets fit inside their mind which is further passed on to generations and generations and whenever someone tries to stand out- is considered shameful and character loose. People don’t even buy sanitary napkins openly from a pharmacy, they would often call it by other names or would bring a written paper note along with them. Girls hesitate buying pads when the pharmacist is a man. All such kinds of activities is a sin for the ideology we had been carrying since ages. In fact it’s women who are cursed but this ideology who restricts them from their daily necessities.
We need to bust out all of these myths and restrictions as menstruation is not a shameful act but a natural biological process which is a very essential part of a woman’s life. There is an urgent need of educating not even our daughters but also our sons regarding menstruation to eliminate chances of infections and diseases. But to start with, is of course open discussions- we need to talk about it openly so that people can also accept it openly and this starts with women themselves. Women need to speak about it as normally as anything else, make way for acceptance that’s the only way we can demolish this taboo. Teachers should stop skipping these chapters, in fact should teach these things with more passion, make the young generation taboo free and let them be themselves whether on periods or not. Children today if educated with more passion and a greater understanding gives birth to the developed nation tomorrow.