Discussion on prevalent menstrual taboos
Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM): Is it a need or a luxury?
The issue of MHM has been frequently debated for many years. Once again, this issue was the limelight, with various pictures of successful women depicting how beautiful is it to bleed, how a packet of sanitary pads helps them to manage. But what is the reality on the ground?
Is a packet of sanitary pads sufficient for menstrual hygiene management? What about their hygienic disposal? What about a proper diet during menstruation? What about a clean water supply? When it comes to safe menstruation and hygiene management, it’s only linked with the availability of pads, which is important but not sufficient. There are also the issues of disposal reproductive hygiene, nutritious diet, lack of mobility and many more. These issues are essential consideration compared to traditional stereotypes.
In a survey among adolescent girls regarding MHM in the public schools of Morang District, it was found that only 33.6 percent had little hygienic knowledge. The rest of the girls knew nothing. This lack of awareness is related to the lack of effective incorporation of menstruation issues in education about personal hygiene. For a menstruating girl, managing her flow and concealing it with best possible sanitary napkin may be the part of the hygienic management. However, she also has to be aware that she needs to dispose used pads properly and have a proper diet. A woman in the remote area who are victims of social taboos and their lack of menstrual knowledge can create infection and other illnesses. Hence, the management aspect is not sufficient; rather there is also a need for social reformation.
Safe menstruation has been recognized as the right and dignity of women. Each individual and the state as a whole should be obligated to facilitate the safety of these rights. Hence, there is a dire need for the prioritization of MHM in WASH policy, incorporation in school curriculum and making gender-friendly-toilets a priority. It is important for all of the society to understand by all of us that MHM is not only about availability of pads; rather, it is a much larger issues with many different facets that must be considered.
By Neha Basnet, GUTHI