Menstrual Hygiene Day: Breaking Taboos in South Asia
What is special about the day?
Menstrual Hygiene Day aims to raise awareness about the issue every year on May 28.
It is important to follow hygiene during periods as women generally spend some six to seven years of their lives menstruating. In the interest of hygiene, women must have proper access to toilets, water, soap and sanitary towels. But, their needs are being neglected and when we say neglected, we particularly mean the South Asian region because we have been neglecting menstrual hygiene in the region for no reasons.
Why menstrual hygiene should matter in South Asia?
People associate myths about menstruation in the region. Young girls go through a challenging phase of their lives when they enter their menstrual cycle. Changes occur, both biological and emotional sorts. A reluctance to speak about it publically often results in unhealthy hygienic conditions that influence women’s health.
They say, when you want to get your voice heard in the babble of voices, make your issue public.
This is what has been happening now. More and more women have started to take their stance on menstruation or menstrual hygiene. They want to speak about the challenges women across the world have to face during their special days and are trying to address those through social media.
In 2015, a ‘Sanitary Pad’ campaign against rape and sexism initiated from the India’s Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi. Students of the university put up sanitary pads with feminist messages on the walls of their campus in protest against rape, sexism and raising voice creating awareness regarding menstruation.
The effects of the campaign were also felt across the border in Pakistan when a group of girls and boys dared to protest against the stigmatisation of menstruation at the Beaconhouse National University (BNU) in Lahore in April this year.
In Nepal, a young girl Sindhuli took a different way to record her protest by taking pictures, documenting the restrictions imposed upon them during their periods.
In Nepal girls during their periods are considered to be ‘impure’ or ‘contaminated’. It is during periods that they cannot live in their own homes with their families, cannot look at the sun and even touch fruits and flowers.
What is happening on social media?
By the time you read these lines, people in Pakistan and across the world are sharing their views and stories on Twitter with their posts, using hashtags #menstruationmatters #menstruation #mhday. Though the voices coming from Pakistan are still few, chances are great that the number will go up in the years to come.
— Zoha Aamer Khan (@ZohaAamerKhan) May 26, 2016
No girl should be missing school for something natural #menstruationmatters .
— Kayz (@Kayzomollo) May 28, 2016
— Nomcebo Mkhaliphi (@nomcebo_mkhali) May 18, 2016
Limited knowledge of a taboo issue in a conservative society of South Asia means that menstrual hygiene is hardly being practiced. But, always remember, we can break our shackles only by talking, supporting and celebrating the International Menstrual Hygiene Day.