Normalize menstruation | The Daily Star

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If the word “menstruation” above has made you cringe in shock and disgust, the modern world on the move with change is not for you. This is the era of social movements like #happytobleed, a 2015 Facebook protest of women who shamelessly oppose claims that women would only be allowed into a sanctuary in India after a machine detected if they were pure (no periods). Welcome to the world where such sexist comments are crushed; where people mike up to share their real-life menstruation stories on platforms like Instagram via hashtags like #TheWholeBodyTruth.

Get used to a society that considers spotting sacred and is willing to work on reforms to raise awareness of the stigma, myths and concerns of menstruation. This is the time when groundbreaking ads like Always’s 2014 #LikeAGirl campaign glorify, rather than belittle, being a girl. Make yourself comfortable in an area that no longer accepts watery blue liquid like Windex in TV commercials to show absorption of menstrual blood; we agree that it is red on tv channels and social media.

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Scratch the latter; apparently we are not there yet.

Last year, Facebook banned a realistic ad from Modibodi, an Australian brand that markets period-proof underwear to represent period blood in red. The ad reportedly violated the platform’s guidelines. This tells you that a lot of work is still needed to change the way we view menstruation and a woman who is having her period.

What afflicts humanity is a disease rooted in ancient perception and sexism: bleeding women are seen as unclean and dirty. If you have your period, you are supposed to evade religious practice, sit at an event, miss school, stay housebound, and just hide the fact that you, in fact, have your period. You are made to feel like having your period is an unforgivable crime and the dark cloud of shame continues to hang over you for 5-7 days.

Usaila Alam, an extraordinary woman, proud mother of two daughters and a teacher, remarks on the irony of such taboos: “Yes, some practices are excused during menstruation but reciting religious scriptures is perfectly fine; after all, your mouth is clean. Touching the Quran is good, your hands cannot be unclean. “

“Menstruation is the fall of the uterine wall. Your uterus is your uterus; it is the place where a child is born and nurtured for 9 months. It is the place where your child’s soul is sent; another human being was born from your uterus. How much more wonderful can this be? If the uterus is such a sacred place, how can the blood shed by this organ be impure in any way “He can’t,” said Alam.

Conversations like these need to come to the fore. 2021 is not a place for illogical taboos and to laugh at someone on their period. On the contrary, let’s normalize it.

A girl’s confidence takes a hard hit during puberty. The fear, anxiety, and surprise associated with a first period can be avoided if parents simply sit their daughter down and tell her what to expect. Be gentle and respectful, positive and enthusiastic. Take inspiration from Alam who cried when his daughter became a woman.

If you’re a father, 32-year-old Faisal Bin Ashraf, who works as a high school physics teacher, might know what to do: “If I’m married, I would look forward to the day when I have this conversation with my mother. girl. I would rather have my partner and I talk to her about menstruation and boys as a team to make sure she feels safe to come see one of us when needed. “

For talking points, good menstrual hygiene should be the focus. The idea is to empower women to manage their periods with safety and dignity. Choices from sanitary napkins, tampons and menstrual cups should be made, describing the benefits, harms, absorption, comfort, application / insertion and, finally, disposal and cleanliness are all what we need to know. Informed decisions to better meet personal needs can only be made after this.

Not only parents, schools can also have an impact. Teachers should learn to empathize with students who experience cramps or discomfort during class and excuse them during class, without asking questions. Here, Ashraf’s approach is simple. In addition to a marker and classroom materials, you will find a packet of sanitary napkins in his classroom, ready to give to anyone who needs them. He believes in establishing an open channel of communication with his students about periods, dating and other issues, doing his best to normalize them to an impressionable crowd.

Alam, however, believes in a more holistic effort, calling on schools and government to take action. “Schools with progressive values ​​should also take menstrual hygiene seriously and educate adolescent girls and boys alike. National campaigns should be launched to eradicate the poverty of the rules. Messages advocating the importance of menstrual hygiene should be disseminated in rural areas where it is needed most. ”She opines.

Other action plans that deserve attention are the menstrual discharge policies and sanitary napkin / tampon dispensers made available in the toilets of schools, restaurants, shopping malls and other public places. The pink tax levied on women’s products, including menstrual hygiene products that make them more expensive, should be abolished. The government should make sanitary napkins cheap and easily available to everyone so that no one has to use old rags, cut cotton, handkerchiefs or papers as bad alternatives.

Eat, sleep and repeat: the red spot on a white skirt is not obscene. Break the taboo and talk about a period. If not now, then when?

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