BE FREE; Happy Period with Sanitary Napkins!!

 

Namaste !

 

Warm Greetings from RSKS India .....

 

If you are from India, chances are that the word ‘menstruation’ conjures up an uncomfortable image in your mind. This is because menstruation is a forbidden topic and is not discussed openly in India due to the stigma associated with it. In many parts of India, menstruating women are considered to be unclean. They are not allowed to enter the kitchen, visit temples or auspicious functions. Dasra, an NGO,did a report in 2014 titled Spot On!, which found that70% of the mothers, predominantly in rural and among lower income classes, consider menstruation as ‘dirty’ and most of them are not aware of what menstruation really is. It is little surprise then that most rural or urban poor girls, would not have heard of menstruation before they reach menarche, the onset of menstruation.

 

The chronic lack of awareness about menstruation has led to the prevalence of unhygienic practices in dealing with menstruation even today. A study conducted by AC Nielsen revealed that an astounding 88% percentage of women in India uses unhygienic methods such as clothes, ashes and sand for protection during menstruation. Those who have access to sanitary hygiene products are a mere 12% of the 355 million menstruating women in India. In rural India this figure is abysmally low at 2-3%. You may find such statistics startling to encounter inthe 21st century.However, the reality is that several women resort to using pads made of clothes which are washed and reused during menstruation. This practice, in itself, may not be unhygienic if the clothes are washed properly and dried completely. However, most of the women do not know the correct way in which to wash these clothes. Also, as it is forbidden for men to see menstrual clothes, often these clothes are not dried in the open and are reused when they are still damp or moist. In addition, surveys have found that often times these clothes are shared by multiple women. There are also cases where women were found to use even more shocking methods such as filling used socks with sand and tying them around their waist for absorption of menstrual blood. Needless to say, such habits lead to easily avoidable health issues. Not using proper menstrual protection leads to incidents of reproductive tract infections being 70% more common in these women. In several cases, there are more severe consequences to such unhealthy habits. Lack of menstrual hygiene is the primary causeof two thirds of the approximately 60,000 cervical cancer related deaths reported annually in India.

 

Other factors that drive the adoption of unhygienic practices among women, apart from lack of awareness, are the affordability and accessibility of sanitary products. 70% of the women surveyed in the Nielsen study said buying sanitary napkins is beyond the means of their families. Clothes are affordable alternatives, especially because they can be reused. The lack of demand also leads to napkins and other feminine hygiene products not being stocked by shops in rural India, making the availability of these productsdifficult even forthe discerning few. The impact this has on younger women in particular, is horrifying. Lack of proper protection keeps girls aged between 12 and 18 out of school for 5 days per month on an average, which amounts to a total of 60 days per year. The Dasra report also found that nearly 23 million girls drop out of school after the start of menstruation.

 

RSKS India has launched a program for promoting menstrual hygiene by providing sanitary pads to women and girlsfrom poor and rural areas. As part of this program, RSKS is reaching out to several slums to educate women about menstrual health.A team from RSKS India visited these slums and trained the women with the help of charts and diagrams so that they can understand the importance of sanitary products.The women activists of the organisation made them aware of the harmful effects and diseases caused by not using sanitary pads and convinced them to use these pads to ensure safe and hygienic menstruation.The organisation has distributed sanitary pads to more than 2500 rural & urban women and girls in different villages and slums till date.

 

Addressing menstruation related issues need to start with the education of the society at large and women in particular. It is important that girls understand menstruation and the importance of menstrual hygiene before they reach menarche. Menstruation should be destigmatised through awareness programs. A civilized society has no place for such antiquated taboos. It is reprehensible that for such a large percentage of women in India, menstruation, which is just another biological process, is an obstruction to education, health and hygiene which are fundamental human rights. You have an opportunity to play a role in ensuring that all women of India have equal access to their wellbeing and above all, a dignified life by contributing to this program. Donations can be made to this program at

 


Thanks & Regarding

Nisha Radhakrishnan
RSKS India's Volunteer
https://www.rsksindia.ngo
rsksindiaorg@gmail.com