THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With yet another World Menstrual Hygiene Day passing by, there has been no change in the inhibition when it comes to buying sanitary napkins over the counter at medical stores. Though menstruation has been a part of education and life since time immemorial, the taboo attached to it continues unabated with experts calling for wide deliberations.
With the advent of social media there has been a slight change among the new generation girls. But when Deccan Chronicle hit the streets and sought the comments of a cross section of city dwellers, it was noticed that not much had changed. 27-year-old Sharon Karthik, a banker, told DC that it had always been embarrassing to buy sanitary napkins.
“Hiding pads while buying, hesitating to ask for it, and not showing the actual colour in advertisements are some socially carved ideologies which need to be changed”, said Sharon. A US-based Napkin Company, Always, was the first to show a red spot on a sanitary pad in 2011. No Indian company has come forward till now to bring in a change on this aspect. Anubha George, a former BBC journalist, says anything that looks like blood is off limits and was considered full frontal nudity. “Menstrual blood is seen as impure by people. Alongside faeces and urine, menstrual blood is considered a waste product even though it is sterile until it comes out”, said Anubha.
Initiator of Wrap: Buyer or Seller
Talking about wrapping up of sanitary pads with newspaper, Balakrishnan, a sales person at a medical store, here came up with the following response. When asked why he wrapped the sanitary napkin, he replied, “I doubt whether Malayalis have really become developed like women in foreign countries. We certainly wrap the sanitary napkin packet in newspapers as people are apprehensive of holding it otherwise. And we feel that it’s not a good way to sell it without wrapping it” added the trader.
S. Haseena, a teacher at the Cotton Hill Girls Higher Secondary School, who came to the shop told DC that when girls buy sanitary pads from stores without them being wrapped in newspaper, it may attract unnecessary attention which eventually would create an awkward situation for them. “But it’s not same as a thirty plus woman buying pads”, said the teacher.
There are at least 800 million women and girls in the world menstruating on a given day. But still menstruation and its hygiene remains a taboo subject. Speaking about it, women’s activist and academic, Dr. J. Devika responded, “It’s an absolutely manifested denial of the female body. People need to collectively come together and negotiate about menstruation in an open space like any other topic”.