#Opinion

Culture of Period Shaming : Shocking Things Indian Women Are Forced to Do

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Women grow up wishing and praying they don’t have to ever have periods. I say it often. Only reason I want to be born a man is so I don’t get periods. It’s life of cultural horrors and the stereotypes are far from gone even though we are in 2021. Women are often excluded from social and religious events, many are told to sit in dark rooms, some are even ridiculed and denied entry into temples and shrines.

Whether its aunts in the family, one’s own parents or even friends sometimes, the culture of period shaming is so deep rooted in our society that generations after generations we are not able to unshackle from its grip.

Mansi

26-year-old Mansi shared she was not allowed to enter the kitchen or stay with her children during periods. Her own mother would advise her against entering the kitchen. She was given food in her room as if she had contracted a life threatening disease.

When made it worse that such treatment by the family made it so obvious that she was menstruating that any visitor, relative would start taunting her.

Kavita 

Marrying a banana tree is part of myths and period shaming culture in India. You heard that right. During a period of confinement when a girl gets her early menses, in some places, she is denied food for a few days, and then married to a banana tree on the fourth day. These customs are followed in some areas of Assam. On the fourth day there is a ceremony called Tulani Biya over festivities.

When girls puberty, they are considered to be impure. They are normally asked to stay “secluded in dark rooms” so that the impurity does not spread.

Let’s ensure that no girl is limited by something as natural and normal as her period by making menstrual hygiene education compulsory in schools. Break the culture of period shaming.

Maitreyi

“My aunt was asked to sit on the floor during her periods.” Maitreyi recounts a trip to her relative’s home during summer vacations when her aunt was told to not sit on sofas or on the dining table since she was on her periods. “It was such a destructive act. Firstly, who does this. Nothing wrong in menstruating women. Why should they be singled out and asked to sit on the floor?”

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Girls share their most embarrassing periods stories.

In many homes in India, women are asked to not sleep on bed when they are down with chums. For some families, the concern about stains and for others it about the shame associated with a menstruating girl. The term “menstrual pollution” is used to describe coming in contact with menstruating girls.

Rakhi

“I had heard this from friends, and read in articles but didn’t ever think it would happen to me, in my own house.” Rakhi was told not to touch pickles by her mother. “My grandmother has ingrained this in my mother’s head and now it’s coming through to me. Girls on periods should not touch pickles.

“For a long time I was very amused about what would pass on from me to the pickle through my fingers and how would the pickle know I am menstruating.” For Rakhi raising her opinion didn’t help. The argument by her mom? “It’s harmless, just do it.”

Fatima

Among Muslim women, there are some cultural rituals that shame a girl on period. one of them is regarding touch of and reading of  religious books. However, menstruating women are not restricted from social and religious visits.

One of the most common assumptions made about a menstruating woman is that she is “unclean and hence unfit to read sacred books or attend special functions.” And so in some cultures, going to a wedding is also not permitted when a girl is on her period.

Menstrual stories need to be out there to normalise the idea that a menstruating woman is as normal as another. There is nothing to hide about periods just as there is nothing to hide about fitness, sex, mental health and sleep.


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