In India, menstruation has traditionally been a taboo topic, regarded as an embarrassment, an impurity, and shrouded in myths. Menstruating women are often shunned from religious events, denied from entering holy places, and even from cooking or entering kitchens.
This is a problem that occurs not only in rural areas of India, but also in metropolitan areas, with the exception that it is more severe in rural areas.
Menstruation is a hard time for all women, whether they live in the city or a rural area. While urban women have cramps, bloating, and uneasiness, rural women face far more. They lack access to sanitary products, sanitation facilities, and clean water, as well as knowledge of menstrual hygiene. This issue is called ‘Period Poverty.
Most common causes of Period Poverty:
- Taboos, Stigma and Stereotypes-Women are considered impure during menstruation and may bring bad omens to the family, which is why girls and women are still barred from some daily activities, such as cooking, entering the kitchen, touching specific objects, being isolated, and not being permitted to worship or enter a holy place.
- Poor hygiene-Many of them aren’t aware of menstrual hygiene. In rural areas, water is scarce, and if it is available, it is either insufficient or dirty. Instead of showering, women save the water they acquire for cooking and reuse their unwashed garments. They also lack access to sanitary products, forcing them to rely on alternatives such as clothes, dry grass, or sand, which can affect their health and lead to UTIs and other infections.
- Illiteracy and lack of awareness- Due to the stigma associated with menstruation, women shy away from visiting a doctor or talking about their menstrual problems. Many school-going girls remain absent or drop out of school once they start menstruating. To change things in society, both men and women have to be educated about menstruation.
To address the issues of period poverty in India, the government must take the necessary and stringent steps. Exempting sanitary pads from service tax, making them available in all rural areas, providing free sanitary pads in government schools, teaching low-income people about the importance of menstrual hygiene by organising workshops or camps, and educating both youngsters and adults to not view menstruation as an impurity.
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As a result, many of them will be protected from diseases and will be able to live healthier lives.
~ By Rachana
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Does Period Poverty influence mental health?
When menstruation is not managed well, it impacts both mental and physical health of an individual.
How does Covid-19 have an impact on Period Poverty?
Due to the pandemic, people are being driven into extreme poverty, and access to social services has decreased. It is difficult for people who have been dependent on schools or community for free menstrual products to afford them now.