Members of ‘Periods’ — the group spearheading the sanitary napkin protest in Jadavpur University (JU) — on Wednesday received the support of All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA).
Days after four Jamia students were asked to explain why they had put up sanitary pads with protest messages on them at public places across the campus, pads carrying anti-sexism and anti-rape messages had come up in JU on March 28.
“We have received a letter jointly signed by Meena Tiwary and Kavita Krishnan, general secretary and secretary of AIPWA, respectively. They have welcomed the campaign by students of Jamia Millia Islamia, JNU, NLUD and Jadavpur University to use sanitary pads to break the silence on menstruation and challenge misogynistic attitudes,” said Arumita Mitra, a second-year JU student, a member of ‘Periods’.
The letter added that it was encouraging that both boys and girls partook in the protest that asserted that periods were natural for women, and nothing to be ashamed about.
“Women should not be treated as untouchables while having periods. They should not feel ashamed in case their clothes get stained. They should not have to whisper about sanitary pads, and pads need not be wrapped in black plastic or paper. The silence and shame around periods needs to be broken. It is sexism, anti-women attitude, gender discrimination and gender violence that are shameful, not periods,” the letter stated.
Warning JU authorities, it added that it was disturbing to see that instead of congratulating students for the campaign, the university administration was threatening to punish them. “AIPWA expresses solidarity with the campaigners and warns that any move to punish them will be met with protests,” the letter read.
“We begun the campaign with a handful of students while many lent us silent support. This letter from AIPWA is a real encouragement. Soon, many will come and join hands with us to speak against the social taboo of menstruation,” said Arumita.
JU Pro V-C Ashish Swarup Verma said: “I haven’t seen the letter so can’t comment on it.”