Page 13 - MHM Report-2023
P. 13

These hard-learnt behaviours and
                                                              attitudes often pose a challenge to MHM
                                                              awareness programmes. In some cases, MHM
                                                              volunteers also face threats of violence for
                                                              discussing menstruation, since it is a taboo in
                                                              certain cultures.
                                                                  Awareness of local and regional sensitivities
                                                              around menstruation is crucial for any MHM
                                                              programme to succeed. Often, religious and
                                                              cultural beliefs, specific to the region, inform
                                                              menstruation-related myths and behaviours
                                                              of its community. Familiarity of these beliefs is
                                                              essential before initiating MHM interventions in
                                                              any region.
                                                                  While most Indian languages have a
                                                              biological term for menstruation, it is seldom
                                                              put to layperson use. Knowledge of local phrases
                                                              used to indicate menstruation can prove another
                                                              essential tool in dealing with sensitivities around
                                                              menstrual health.
                                                                  Thus, MHM programmes when executed in
                                                              collaboration with community resource persons
                                                              (CRPs, often known as sakhi or companion) from
                                                              the same community, stand a greater chance of
                                                              success. Women, men and village elders are more
                                                              likely to feel comfortable discussing a taboo topic
                                                              with one of their own community members than
                                                              open up to an outsider. Gender-based selection of
                                                              CRP is also proven to further assuage sensitivity-
                                                              related issues around menstruation. Deliberate
                                                              pairing of women and men with volunteers of the
                                                              same gender can help break ice without offending
            MensTrUATion – A sensiTive Topic                  existing cultural beliefs and taboos.

            In the earlier part of this chapter, socio-cultural   Despite best intentions and efforts, it is
            norms were discussed as one of the main           imperative to allow scope for choice and consent.
            barriers to awareness and adoption of safe MHM    Permitting participants the choice to withdraw
            practices. Despite India’s scientific development   from a menstruation-related conversation or to
            and information technology boom, myths and        express discomfort should be fundamental to
            social taboos around menstruation continue to     any MHM programme. Allowing participants to
            grip several rural regions. Many women and        practice consent and set safe boundaries around
            girls consider period blood as impure and a topic   sensitive topics can help soften their resistance or
            best left undiscussed.                            discomfort towards menstrual health discussions.

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