Untouchable? What?

How many of you are in your periods? I know not a single person would like to answer. Afraid or shy that what the boy next to you would think about you?

So is it shameful? Disgusting? Why do you hesitate to say “yes, I am in my period”?

I was 12 years old. And one day I went to the washroom as usual only to find out there was something unusual with me. I was bleeding and I felt like I had had a serious killer disease. I had absolutely no idea about menstruation.

Mom was not at home that day and I rushed to my dad to ask what was wrong with me. He was like “aa… umm… it’s normal; it happens to all females.” Then he went quiet.

Thereafter I was barred from regular pujas, for I was described as “nachhune bhaccha”, which translates into “she has become untouchable”.

Then there is a centuries-old custom in some western remote villages of Nepal where menstruating girls and women are banished from home, as people believe some bad omen would befall the family if the “impure” girls and women are allowed to be at home and touch and cook food and perform puja.

This tradition continues despite a Supreme Court ban on this practice called Chhaupadi. Nepal has even criminalised Chhaupadi. Though girls and women during periods are not banished from homes in urban centres, they are not allowed to cook or participate in religious activities. A different form of Chhaupadi!

Have you noticed how a shopkeeper surreptitiously wraps the sanitary pad when you buy one? But why? Because men and women are still far from accepting the fact that menstruation is a normal phenomenon and this is experienced by half of the world’s population. There is nothing to be ashamed of when you are in “that time of the month”, as many would like to say because period is still a subject cloaked in secrecy, though there is no need.

We must start talking about 3 Cs now – Choice, Chance and Change. Let’s make a choice to take a chance to talk about menstruation and effect a change.

Our periods should not limit our opportunities. As a medical student, I understand the relation between menstruation and reproduction very well. Menstruation is a sigh of life. Why should a menstruating girl or woman be tagged as untouchables? We should be proud of periods, not ashamed.