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Taboos Surrounding Menstruation In India Shreya S Nair

The idea that whatever menstruators touch will be ruined is common, but why is something so natural seen as ‘impure’? The manifestation of menstrual taboo has been rooted in society until the date and has been propagating from generation to generation. Many menstruators are subject to restrictions in their daily lives simply because they are menstruating. Right from a young age they are presented with the idea of periods as something to be ashamed about and are told to not talk about it. They are restricted from entering religious places, offer prayers, sometimes even aren’t allowed to enter kitchens and are excluded from their families and are made to carry on with their day separated from their family. The myths surrounding periods have imposed these restrictions on women which have been accepted as norms. About 85% of the women in India follow these restrictions put upon them right from a young age.

The secrecy surrounding periods has led to menstruators being uneducated about their menstrual cycles which makes them unaware of the harms that can be caused when they use unhygienic methods to take care of themselves when they are on their period. It has also led to no one questioning the taboo around periods. The stigmatization of menstruation by society impacts not only the girls’ and women’s emotional state, mentality, lifestyle and health but also the environment.

While most women living in rural areas use dirty rags, 88% of women in India sometimes resort to using ashes, newspapers, dried leaves and husk sand to aid absorption which makes them susceptible to many infections and affects their reproductive health. Most women in urban areas tend to use sanitary pads which when not disposed of properly affects our environment drastically. One sanitary pad could take 500 to 800 years to decompose as the plastic used is non-biodegradable and can lead to health and environmental hazards. Taking all these issues into consideration it’s clear that an open discussion about menstruation needs to happen. Our population needs to be educated about the myths and taboos surrounding periods and how it affects us as a society. It’s high time we stop sacrificing a menstruators self-esteem at the altar of menstrual myths.

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