Women are often identified by the periodic hormonal change and mood swings along with the completion of monthly ovulation cycle should be liable to hold every secret as a special agent regarding her menstrual matter. Why not?? After all, her dignity lies on concealing. But concealing from whom?? Isn’t it the menstrual matter that decides sexual orientation of a person? A girl becomes female because she bleeds. Still, the menstrual issues are always neglected on our behavior, our WASH policy?
Considering our behavior, no matter how advanced we think ourselves to be, our mindset is still oriented with the traditional stereotype. Menstruation was a social taboo and still it is a taboo, only change is the realization as a social stigma. Women on period are subjected to the seclusion from their daily activities including their access to water source, humiliated as ‘contaminated’, ‘dirty’ and ‘impure,’ suffer reduced mobility and dietary restrictions in the name of cultural norms. Blood stain at women cloth turns more head and generates gossips as if it’s a subject of crime for a girl to get period unexpectedly. In our society, it’s acceptable to smoke or carry liquor openly but when it comes to sanitary napkin, it should be wrapped, why not? After all, menstrual issues should be kept silent so as the pain of menstruator. Regarding the menstrual knowledge also, most of the adolescent girls acquire knowledge through gossip since it’s a question mark on dignity to open about such things. So, in such scenario where a girl is unknown about the changes she is going through, where she hides her suffering, how can she respect herself, when the society is punishing for her identity.
Considering our WASH target also we have leaped forward towards ambitious sustainable goal for reaching universal toilet and water coverage but the question is what the universal coverage refers for? Increasing toilet numbers or making it accessible for everyone?? When we look for number then definitely it has been increased but when it comes towards functionality and quality, all these activities seems like mission imperfect. Toilets are being constructed and open defecation free has been the identity of every place but at the same time girls are restricting themselves from mobility during period just because the toilet is not gender friendly or lacks water facility. “Being a visually impaired girl, I have always found it difficult to have access to public toilet with the belly churning smell and lack of water so, in this scenario open defecation free seems like a joke to me” said Icchya KC with hint of sarcasm in her voice.
In relation to the sustainable development goals of achieving equity, participation, good health and good education, it’s essential to incorporate the menstrual issues. Even the fundamental right has recognized safe menstruation as a matter of dignity and good health. Not only the toilet, menstrual management is also intimately related with the water availability but due to lack of adequate water supply, backed by the taboo of staying away from water source, hygiene issues remain at stack. “I get heavy flow during my period, but considering the water problem I don’t want to visit anywhere, not even my school” said Sushila Tamang a mere representative of today’s irony.
It might be because of women subordinate position in the society, menstrual issue remains the issue of women only. Menstruation which is marked by puberty with beautiful changes in body serves for unique identity of women However, it has been silent issue, further fueled by the social norms and lack of consideration in the WASH policy, and it’s like a curse for women so, it’s time to talk about period, talk about change, where every girl feels honor in bleeding.
Neha Basnet, GUTHI