The world as of July 2020, has changed a lot. But, there are some things that have certainly not changed. One of them is the stigma attached to menstruation. Even today, many families in India do a temporary ostracisation of the woman when she menstruates. Some religious organisations also do the same. But is it not time to embrace this biological process and de-stigmatize it finally?
In her TED talk, social activist Ananya Grover tells her audience, and to the listeners at large, that while none of us would exist without it, menstruation remains an ’embarrassing’ subject to broach. She says it is “exhausting to take out a brown paper bag hiding a pad, stuffing it into your pocket in the middle of a class, and rushing to the washroom as discreetly as possible”. “It is exhausting to sit through lessons and meetings pretending to be absolutely normal, while internally crying out from intense period cramps. It is exhausting to be dismissively told that you are PMSing, or suffering from ‘that time of the month’, and it is exhausting to continuously fight back against age-old traditions that ask you not to pray, visit temples, cook, touch pickle, and the list goes on and on, while you are just trying to bleed and be left in peace,” she says as the audience laughs.
Grover then goes on to speak about access and privilege and throws light on some staggering statistics that show that 335 million girls go to school without having access to soap and water to wash their hands. “What about the struggles of homeless, transgender, intersex and displaced people who menstruate? What about them?” she asks.
“The scale of the problem, stemming in part from the deep-rooted stigma attached to menstruation, is unimaginable. And the desire to voice this frustration led me, along with three other teammates, to initiate a campaign that calls for change, questions the taboos surrounding menstruation, and spreads period positivity,” she says of her campaign ‘Pravahkriti‘.
“When we can discuss digestion, blood circulation and respiration — all natural, biological processes — why should menstruation be off-limits?” Grover asks.
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