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We need to talk about menstruation and demolish the taboo, recognize the need for making sanitary products more accessible, get our priorities right!
When the other day I asked my maid to use sanitary napkins instead of clothes, her unalloyed and simple reply was, “Didi yeh sab hamare liye kahan? Kitna mehenga hota hai! ( Madam, all this is not for us, it is so damn expensive!)”
Mind you, this was much before our government gracefully proposed 14.5 per cent tax on sanitary napkins in some states. I wondered sitting in my living room today, now what will the ‘they’ do? How will they afford a napkin to make those days little easy? And most importantly, how can I ever tell them “le lo…acha hai. Sehat bani rahegi (Buy it, it’s good. You will stay healthy).
Menstruation is a taboo all along. No matter how you want to address this issue, it is one that has been an item of constant shame and ridicule for any women. Leave aside folks in the villages, even in cities and in urban set ups, it is definitely not a topic that is open enough to be talked about.
Women fight menstruation each and every month, and for many out there it is no less than a battle. With improper knowledge and potential health problems looming large, women battle their days with utmost drudgery and pain. And to top this, the social and religious sanctions make life near about hell.
As the untouchables, the unchaste and what not, women are ravaged with time and again, and sadly there’s nothing comforting in sight that can bring some change in these age old societal norms. And, if this wasn’t enough, now sanitary napkins are on the verge of becoming inaccessible to scores of women out there, leaving them to deal with their monthly bleeding in the most unhygienic and contaminated ways.
A report suggests that only 12% women in India use sanitary napkins and the rest 88% are still under the banner of primitive methods like rugs, clothes etc etc. Needless to mention that these utterly unsanitary methods have made millions of women out there hugely vulnerable towards serious health hazards like cancer and fatal infections. And the attached stigma leads to women hiding their discomfort day in and out without a reprieve.
Let’s face it – we need to take menstruation seriously, very very seriously, and make the use of sanitary products as one of the basic human rights if not anything else.
#LahuKaLagaan is a new campaign by SheSays that has decided to take this message forward to the masses and especially to the government so that the tax proposed on sanitary napkins can be put off. This campaign aims at bringing out the agony of women during these days to the forefront and how it can be made a shade better by making sanitary napkins tax free and at the same time an affordable commodity to each and everyone in need. It is imperative to understand the fact that a sanitary napkin can never be an item of luxury, because it needs to be used by every women across the social and economic strata of the society every month.
Needless to say that it is high time that menstruation comes out of the dungeons, the closets and reaches our board rooms and living rooms. It is high time it is talked about. It is high time both men and women are sensitive towards it. It is high time we talk about it with pride and not shame. And it is high time we embark on a journey that makes our next generation more sensitive and inclusive about it.
Let us talk about menstruation as a boon and not a bane. Let’s root for #LahuKaLagaan and make this campaign a success for a better and sensitive India, at large.
Image source: flickr, for representational purposes only.