Awkward and hurriedly delivered lectures on periods and other hormonal changes in city schools are being replaced by comics, stories and videos, which discuss these bodily fucntions without any inhibition. Diminishing the taboo around menstruation, schools have adopted more interactive methods to talk about it, with comics and illustrations emerging as effective methods to spread awareness.
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City schools hold workshops for students from Classes VI and above, where students are told in detail about hormonal changes, menstruation and menstrual hygiene. The state government, too, has adopted illustrations and storytelling to create awareness. Meena Raju Manch, a booklet issued by the state, contains a chapter dedicated to gender and health.
“Through the story of Paro, the chapter explains the what, why and how of menstruation in simple words,” said Nitin Kamble, a CORO volunteer who holds workshops for municipal and zilla parishad schools.
“Comics are conversational. The sentences are short. They reduce the awkwardness that the topic of menstruation generates,” said Aditi Gupta, founder of Menstrupedia that designs comics for children above nine years of age. The Unicef also provides a host of material for schools and NGOs to use during the workshops.
“Comic strips, videos and games make for great conversation starters. There is less awkwardness,” said Suhani Mohan, who holds such workshops for schools. In such conversations, students find it easier to ask questions, said Mohan, who is also the founder of startup Saral Designs, that works in the field of menstruation and sanitation.
“The students, both boys and girls, need to understand that periods are bodily functions. They should be taught that they need not be afraid or ashamed to talk about it,” said Suman Samarth, headmistress of the secondary section of RN Podar School, Santacruz.
Lessons on menstruation at an early age prepares the students to handle it better when they actually get their periods, believe teachers. “At the same time it is important to tell boys about the changes in their bodies,” said Kamble.