Page 30 - MHM Report-2023
P. 30

No More a ‘Curse of God’:

            Dealing with taboos and myths

                  or years, Somi Bai Garasiya, a 42-year-old   Water Mission in Gujarat consider menstrual blood
                  tribal woman from Basantgarh village in     “impure”. In Jharkhand, the percentage was even
            FSirohi district of Rajasthan, would fear the     higher — covering 75% of the women surveyed.
            onset of her periods. Hundreds of miles away, in      These myths and misconceptions often lead
            a village in Maharashtra, Vaishali Aatram had     to social restrictions that adversely impact the
            similar concerns. “I felt dirty and untouchable   physical and psycho-social health of women and
            while menstruating because I considered myself    adolescent girls. The most common restrictions are
            impure during these phases,” says the 28-year-    in the form of limitations on food consumption,
            old from Indrathana village from Maharashtra’s    social interaction, mobility and religious worship.
            Yavatmal district.                                For instance, in Rajasthan, women are forbidden
                That menstruation or period blood is dirty or   from cooking or doing water-related chores during
            impure is one of the most widespread and harmful   menstruation. Champaben says that she was
            myths around menstruation. Champaben Solanki,     subjected to purification by cow-urine during her
            35, from Gujarat’s Dahod district once believed   menstruation cycles. “For five days a month, I was
            that menstruation was a “curse by God”. Like      not allowed to touch kitchen utensils; I had to sit
            her, 60% of the women and girls surveyed by Tata   outside and use a separate plate to eat on,”
                                                              Champaben says.
                                                                  An open and scientifically-tempered
                                                              conversation is critical for dispelling these taboos
                                                              and myths. Hence, a standard inclusion in the
                                                              Trusts’ MHM interventions across genders and
                                                              ages is a ‘myth-buster’ conversation around
                                                              menstruation. Informative sessions around
                                                              the functions of menstrual blood have proved
                                                              helpful in dispelling these myths. The volunteers
                                                              draw attention to menstrual blood’s function
                                                              as nutrition for the unborn child to dispel the
                                                              ‘impurity’ myth.
                                                                  By participating in the MHM initiative,
                                                              hundreds of women like Somi Bai, Champaben
                                                              and Vaishali now have access to the right
                                                              knowledge and tools to handle their menstruation
                                                              better. Somi Bai says that she doesn’t hesitate
                                                              to visit temples during her periods anymore.
                                                              For others like Vaishali and her daughter, these
                                                              interventions have put an end to the practice of
                                                              seclusion during periods.

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