Shame Culture

Five-day exile for women during menstrual cycle

Menstrual practices in most village and even many urban families continue to be bound by superstition.

“The moment a girl begins to menstruate, she is taken to a little ‘hut’ on the outskirts of the village, where she is expected to stay for five days,” said Pushpa (name changed to protect identity), 38, hiding her face with her saree to cover her embarrassment at the topic. “She is brought back into the community after a bath. No one told me about it when I was young and I have not prepared my daughters either. They have to deal with it.”

This ‘huge information hole’ is prevalent among rural and urban adolescent girls about menstrual hygiene, found a 2014 study. Conversations revealed that the situation was no different among married women. Aria (name changed to protect identity), a 26-year-old resident of a local slum, said she would never ask her husband to shop for sanitary napkins.

Women and girls around the world, especially in low income communities, often face a lack of access to menstrual products. Without proper sanitary supplies, they may resort to using newspaper, dirty rags, and even leaves to manage their periods.

The combination of period poverty, stigmatization, and inadequate reproductive and sexual health education has major consequences for girls’ wellbeing. It can also prevent girls from staying in school therefore ending their education.

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