Since times immemorial, the lives of women (especially in India) have been controlled by other people (including other women). Somehow people discover ways to dominate women by exploiting issues that make them feel vulnerable.
But it is all the more shocking to know that women are dominated/controlled/ridiculed for the very reasons that make them different from men. And one such reason is the occurrence of cyclical physiologic events that a woman experiences as a result of possessing a specialized reproductive system. Yes, I’m talking about menstrual cycles.
But instead of acknowledging it as a normal and physiologic activity, people go to the extent of attaching a sense of impurity with a woman’s monthly cycles.
Just imagine a scenario where a newly wed woman is
expected to perform some rituals or prayers in order to provide her husband’s
family a male heir. But once it is known that she is in the middle of ‘those’
days, she is immediately pronounced as untouchable and quarantined into a
remote corner of the house.
How can a normal natural physiological process render a person impure ? How can a Goddess/God distance herself/himself from one of her/his own creation just because that creation was functioning normally ?
Do women really need to pray to such a Goddess/God ?
But it is all the more depressing when one finds women (even young in age) themselves accepting the ridiculous idea of being impure. Someone once told me that this impurity is actually logical as women in the process of bleeding would contaminate things they come in contact with. Thus they are prohibited to enter temples or touch objects (including containers of food) during ‘those’ days.
I ask, what if the son of the house, having injured himself falling off his cycle (pun intended) comes to the house bleeding from several places. Would he be considered impure too ? Would he be prohibited from moving about and touching things too ? But I guess we all know the answer.
The discrimination mentioned above happens only when it is known to others when a woman is menstruating. But the shame associated with it is so much that more often than not, it remains taboo. Even if a female is going through the worst possible effects (symptoms which include severe cramps, depression, fatigue, etc.) she cannot disclose the reason for the fear of being shamed.
Ignorance and insensitivity towards a completely normal physiological process makes life horrible for most females in a country like India. Having read quite a bit about the experiences of many females it is evident that even in urban areas, it is not easy for a female to tackle menarche.
Just spare a thought for the millions of girls in rural India who have no access to even the help from a confidant and/or knowledgeable mother, or to the knowledge of health education and health products, let alone have an access or freedom to go to a pharmacy. Add to it the presence of uneducated and insensitive people all around and one just shudders at the thought.
No wonder most young girls in rural India are forced to give up going to a school because of the above mentioned reasons. It is one of the most serious reasons for the pathetic female literacy rate, specially in rural India. Our country needs awareness, sensitization and health measures for all such females in rural areas. Even better if the government can provide free hygiene products from the Primary Health Centres across the country.
Many schools in cities are known to conduct sessions to educate young girls about the health issues they are expected to face. But more often than not, the boys are kept out of such sessions. What people tend to forget that boys need as much sensitization towards such issues as girls, if not more. If young men are not educated about such gender-based issues, they will grow up being insensitive towards their female counterparts and will end up using such issues as a means of ridicule or jokes.
Why should a girl be made to feel ashamed of a completely natural process ? Why should she be denied a chance to explain the reason for her sickness ? Our country needs serious awareness regarding normal female physiology (specially for males) in order to tackle the inherent gender discrimination in our society.
For all the males who think that a female’s periods are something funny or ridiculous……. Grow up !
For all the people (including nosey MILs and grannys) who think that every girl becomes impure for some time every month……. Get a life, and let others live theirs !