One of the biggest and most constant struggles of being a woman in India is fighting the taboos and superstitions surrounding menstruation. No matter how liberal or modern we may think ourselves to have become, conversations about menstruation are still held in whispers and sanitary napkins wrapped tightly in black plastic bags. Girls are still told to keep hush hush about ‘that time of the month’. Women in India are still considered ‘dirty’ or ‘impure’ during the period when they are menstruating. Many are not allowed to perform religious ceremonies or even enter the kitchen. During those 5 days, myths and superstitions dictate how women spend their day – from where they sleep to their bathing practices and even their diet. But these are fairly well-known things. Here are 10 facts you probably didn’t know about menstruation in India:
1. World Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated annually on 28 May to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene.
2. Sanitary napkins are still taxable in India nor is it considered an ‘Essential Commodity’. That’s right, you pay tax on menstrual hygiene products like sanitary napkins taxes that can be as high as 14.5 per cent in some states
3. Only 12% of menstruating women in India have access to and regularly use sanitary napkins. The majority of women are forced to use rags, pieces of cloth, dried leaves and even old newspapers as absorbents.
4. Unhygienic period health and disposal practices can have major consequences on the health of women including increased chances of contracting cervical cancer and Reproductive Tract Infections
5. Lack of awareness about menstruation affects not just the physical health but also psychological and mental health of girls who are found to suffer from depression, stress and low self confidence among other things.
6. 66% of girls don’t even know about menstruation when they first start their period.
7. Research shows that approximately 23% of adolescent girls drop out of school when they start menstruating and those who don’t usually miss up to 5 days of school every month.
8. Many women decrease their intake of water so that they don’t have frequent the toilet while on their period.
9. Women in rural India are forced to travel an excess of 2 kilometers to access sanitary napkins and sometimes even further to dispose of them.
10. Arunachalam Muruganantham known as the ‘Menstrual Man’ invented a low-cost sanitary pad making machine that has already been used in 1300 villages in India. He was named TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2014.
Crownit in association with Phullu is hosting a week long campaign to spread awareness about the problems women face during menstruation and the taboos surrounding it. Phullu starring by Sharib Ali Hashmi, Jyotii Sethi & Nutan Surya touches on the social sensitivity of menstruation, the movie is slated to release on the 16th June. Crownit is proud to be the Official Digital Media Partner of Phullu.