May 28th was Menstrual Hygiene Day . The vision was to create a world in which every woman and girl can manage her menstruation in a hygienic way – wherever she is – in privacy, safety and with dignity. See the words in bold? Yes ..PRIVACY, SAFETY and DIGNITY!!
Growing up in a fairly traditional tambrahm household I really do know what it does not mean. And when I scavenged through fellow bloggers who have written about it I knew I am not the first (nor the last) person who is going to write about it. I was a rebel, a little imp who blatantly refused anything my parents asked me to follow which didn’t make sense to me. Coming to the P word. Here are my two cents about privacy, safety and dignity.
Be safe: Teach your girls to follow all hygiene practices to make sure they feel comfortable and clean. No excuses! Wherever you live and however you live.
Private: You are not obliged to announce or share your period information with anybody except your doctor. All others are by choice, so if your pakkathathu maami* asks “Are you okay to water the plats today” or “To come for vethala paaku** because today is Friday” say what you prefer to say and what you believe in. Your religious beliefs are your own. Though its hard to fight back an existing system , remember that “period” is not a sin. Do not fear for consequences just because you have your period etc.
Saying out loud: Nothing happens if you say PERIOD. It was always a hush hush when I was growing up. Say the damn thing and be open to discussions with your kids.
Being dignified: Teach your girls that menstruation is natural and normal and help them handle it well. Help them such that they are given the strength to handle it all through their lives. Refrain from making them feel low or guilty or frustrated. Every girl goes through it in a different way either physically or mentally painful. Let them know it is a new phase and the body is undergoing changes for the good. Ease it into the teenagers and truly make them have happy periods. Do not isolate or make them feel embarrassed. The worst you could do is to make them develop negative feelings towards the process.
Involvement: This is not just a woman thing. Educate your boys as well. Teach them the science and ask them to be considerate. We don’t need pity or help but just the right attitude to be sowed in the society.
*Next door lady
** To get sacred betel leaf and fruit after prayers