World Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated across the world on May 28. The day helps in creating awareness around the taboos of menstrual hygiene. It also helps people, who’re unaware of the practices, understand what needs to be done so as to maintain proper hygienic surroundings during the time of women’s periods.
Here are a few actresses who speak up about periods on World Menstrual Hygiene Day:
Actress Aishwarya Raj Bhakuni, who will be seen soon in actor Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Prithviraj’ says, “Menstruation is a natural phenomenon that every girl has to go through every month for 5-6 days which includes cramps, fever, heavy blood flow, headache, irritation which is commonly known as Premenstrual syndrome. However, it has always been surrounded by taboos and myths that exclude women from many aspects of socio-cultural life. Today’s world needs to be educated about menstruation to have better understandings of puberty and reproductive health. Thus, there is the need to follow a strategic approach in combating these issues.”
“Culturally in many parts of India, menstruation is still considered to be dirty and impure and hence women are prohibited from participating in normal life while menstruating. She must be ‘purified’ before she is allowed to return to her family and day to day chores of her life. However, scientifically it is known that the actual cause of menstruation is ovulation followed by a missed chance of pregnancy that results in bleeding from the endometrial vessels and is followed by preparation of the next cycle. Therefore, there seems no reason for this notion to persist that menstruating women are ‘impure’,” adds Bhakuni.
She goes on to add, “Our Hindu Vedic system has always been scientific and people have always misunderstood and misquoted the reason for not letting females getting involved in house chores since generations. The real reason behind this was PMS (Premenstrual syndrome) which I have mentioned before. So in order to give them proper rest during those 5 days female were prevented from living normal routine life of taking care of the house. People really need to get educated about this and we can begin by educating our children in school and home first because they are the future of this country and that’s how they can pass on the correct information to the forthcoming generation and leave all the myths and taboos behind.”
Voicing similar opinions, ‘One Night Stand’ actress Nyrraa M Banerji says, “It’s just a process of body to reproduce. If menstrual cycle etc are a taboo then so is human birth because that’s the flesh and blood used to create a baby. Women have to take utmost care during that time because if hygiene is not practiced, blood may rot inside and cause diseases. There should be no shame in discussing about all this because nothing is above health care and it’s a proud moment for a woman to ovulate. It’s a power of creation.”
Actress Vaishnavi Ganatra, who has become a household name after being a part of popular TV show like ‘Woh Toh Hai Albelaa’ and ‘Rakshabandhan’, says, “Menstruation is a phenomenon unique to girls. As you read this today, more than 800 million women worldwide are having a period. None of us would exist without it and yet it remains one of our most tenacious biological taboos. I feel Menstruation for girl, is a boon, a benefit. However, it has always been surrounded by taboos and myths that exclude women from many aspects of socio-cultural life.”
She adds, “In India, the topic has been a taboo until date. Such taboos about menstruation present in many societies impact on girls’ and women's emotional state, mentality and lifestyle and most importantly, health. People perceive it as unclean or embarrassing, inhibiting even the mention of menstruation whether in public or in private. Common period taboos include the idea that women are impure, dirty, or sinful while they’re menstruating. Some people believe women and girls can spread misfortune or impurity during menstruation. As a result, they may face restrictions on their day-to-day behaviour, including handling food or sleeping in the house or even exercising. Although, there is a thin line between reality which contains scientific facts, and the stuff people make up. There are a lot of myths and such socio-cultural limitations imposed upon women, but it isn’t right to do so. Knowing the actual reality behind this is very important.”
“Young girls often grow up with limited knowledge of menstruation because other women shy away from discussing the issues with them. Adult women may themselves not be aware of the biological facts or good hygienic practices, instead passing on cultural taboos and restrictions to be observed Community based health education campaigns could prove worthwhile in achieving this task. There is also need to spread awareness among the school teachers regarding menstruation so that young girls don’t drop out of school and can continue to study. Large numbers of girls in many less economically developed countries drop out of school when they begin menstruating. This includes over 23% of girls in India. There are health and hygiene issues also to consider relating to girls and menstruation,” she adds.
“Having a period can feel like a chore, but imagine if it prevented you from going about your daily life and even missing out on an education. Poor toilet and sanitation facilities at schools and lack of access to sanitary products mean girls do not have the confidence to go to and manage their periods at school. Over 77% of menstruating girls and women in India use an old cloth, which is often reused. Poor protection and inadequate washing facilities may increases susceptibility to infection, putting girls at risk of being stigmatized. The latter may have significant implications for their mental health. The challenge, of addressing the socio-cultural taboos and beliefs in menstruation, is further compounded by the fact the girls’ knowledge levels and understandings of puberty, menstruation, and reproductive health are very low and it is very necessary to give them an insight,” adds Ganatra.
“There sure are a lot of problems just because the topic of menstruating is a taboo. Once it stirs clear and people opening talk about it to each other, way more effective solutions can be found. Awareness of the reality is a must. Periods are a natural process and there is absolutely nothing that there is to be ashamed of. So, to all women who are going through this, take care of yourself, your hygiene, and be aware of the real facts because menstruating is a huge part of your life. And to all the others out there, take an initiative. Give up on treating this like a taboo, it is a very normal process. Happy World Menstrual Hygiene Day,” the actress concludes.