Dressed in clothes stained with blood, and holding tampons, sanitary pads, cloths and contraceptive pills, Delhi University students are all set to march through the streets of the campus on Friday to protest against sexism and the stigma and taboo associated with menstruation.
“The stigma around menstrual blood reveals the love-hate relations that our society has with women’s bodies and their sexuality —where it must control it with words like ‘goddess’ and ‘dutiful wife’ or revile it. This vision does not work for us anymore and we refuse to accept it. With the campaign and rally, ‘Come and see the blood on my skirt’, we want to push forward the message that the ‘Pads against Sexism’ movement so creatively brought into the public domain,” one of the co-ordinators of the campaign Deepti Sharma said.
‘Pads against sexism’ was a global campaign meant to tackle and protest against sexism by posting messages on sanitary pads. The use of sanitary napkins to spread the message has a shock-value, as menstruation is a taboo subject for public discussion.
The movement, which originated in Germany, was taken up by students from Jamia Millia Islamia. They emulated the concept by sticking messages on sanitary pads on campus and invited backlash from the university which removed them from the premises.
“Fascinated by the whole idea, we also wanted to take the whole movement forward as well in some other manner. When it happened in Jamia, we saw that not everyone understood the message. Besides, only 10-12 per cent women in India actually use sanitary pads. By doing it in this manner, we want to call all eyes to ourselves so that we can talk about the issue more openly and reach out to everyone,” Sharma said.
On Friday morning, students plan to march across university colleges, till Kamla Nagar, spreading parchas in Hindi and English about the issue. “Through the campaign, we hope to create, demand and claim spaces where we can have difficult conversations about this subject, where we can dismantle the taboos that shame us and regulate our lives,” Sharma said.
“Every girl has a ridiculous, wacky or absurd story about an episode involving menstruation. We plan on asking girls to write these stories on pieces of cloth, and then we’ll put them together for an exhibition,” Sharma told Newsline.