Period. It’s ironic to begin a sentence that signals the end of something and yet, for many women across India, their very first period puts an end to many facets of their life. Girls who bleed for the first time are told that they need to stay away from the god’s room, the kitchen and any place that they can pollute with their bleeding ovaries. And when these girls mature into women, they continue to believe that they are unhygienic, impure and even untouchable for a few days of every month of every year.
According to statistics, 18 million girls in India don’t know about periods and among them, 8 million don’t believe that it’s a biological process. A few years later, these girls may never grow up to accept their body in all its pain inducing, figure enhancing capacity. In this context, an inclusive conversation about menstruation is compelling, immediate and one that Indian women are already making.
On Menstrual Hygiene Day, which was observed on May 28, women in their different capacities as mothers, sisters and daughters made a set of videos that debunk the myths surrounding a woman’s period.
Aranya Johar’s powerful narrative on menstruation and a woman’s body is evocative and inspiring. This Mumbai poet urges women to take pride in their physical makeup; their bodies which make them “paint the town red” every month. She argues that a talk on menstruation shouldn’t take place behind closed doors or limit women. Instead, women should know that they can conquer anything and aren’t inferior.
Let’s have that bloody conversation
What do boys think about sanitary napkins? They think it’s an untouchable object that most definitely belongs to girls or women. But Arré’s hilarious video on sanitary napkins aims to educate boys about this unmentionable, untouchable object. In this visual narrative, the sanitary napkin emerges from out of the shelf and becomes omnipresent to the point that a young boy can’t hide from it anymore. He ends up having that bloody conversation with his mom.
This complex discussion on menstruation uses elements of pop culture to enlighten women about what to use during one’s period. Is a sanitary napkin more eco-friendly than a tampon? Does a menstrual cup cause the least damage to the environment? These are some difficult decisions that woman have to make and this video helps them make an informed choice.
Aditi Gupta and Tuhin Paul’s comic strip on menstruation debunks all the religious and cultural myths attached to a period. These graphic designers use comics to educate young girls about what happens to a female body when a period occurs. Most of this knowledge is imparted through didi, a doctor who talks to three avid listeners.
R Balki’s upcoming film traces the life of Padma Shri Arunachalam Muruganantham who found a new low cost sanitary napkin machine and started a revolution. The film, titled Padman, is produced by Twinkle Khanna and her husband Akshay Kumar who spoke about menstrual hygiene on Twitter.