Why is India not outspoken when it comes to sanitary healthcare?
Sanitary pads, a word that's spoken in whispers and hushed voices. It's talked about as a sin or an embarrassment that everybody slides under the carpet. Look around, nobody addresses it, acknowledges it or pays heed to it. If you visit a pharmaceutical store, the store seller will pack it in a black bag and probably give you discreetly. You feel as if you're buying something illegal like drugs! You instantly keep that bag in your purse and rush home.
Women in India do not feel comfortable talking about their periods, even in their own family, let alone in public. Even with the most "liberal" and "unorthodox" families, women fear sharing primary menstrual hygiene issues with their family. Schoolgirls find it a taboo to talk about their menstrual health. Even to carry pads from the classroom to the toilet was difficult. However, these are issues in the urban and literate parts of India. In rural sections of India, this issue isn't talked about, which leads to illiteracy about mediocre life skills. Many school girls do not even know that they are undergoing their periods because their mothers do not teach them about it. People are unaware of how women use a dirty cloth, dirty rags, leaves, dust or ash. Some taboos prevent them from washing their piece of cloth publically and drying them in the sun. It results in women using a damp cloth which is a health hazard and unhygienic.
The concept of menstruation is rooted in religious myths and superstitions due to social taboos. The entire thought of menstruation is regarded as filthy, impure and even unholy because of this, menstruation is surrounded by society's oppressive nature of embarrassment and shame. Menstruating women are often expected to follow a set of restrictions during their periods, such as not going to the temple or offering prayers, not entering the kitchen and not touching certain food items. Classrooms and teachers themselves often find the issue embarrassing, continuing an environment of dishonor and darkness around menstruation.
Besides the ignorance about menstrual hygiene, the unfortunate management has had a disastrous impact on school girls. Especially in rural regions, girls drop out of their school after puberty. Some girls opt to miss out on school during those five days. It causes girls to lag in academics.
The root causes for dropping school during menstruation are inadequate hygiene facilities and basic private toilets at school. There are not adequate discreet and absorbent facilities in the school. This is because sanitary healthcare is not acknowledged by the system. The fact that menstruation is perceived as immoral further encourages period-related truancy. Female teachers are also concerned by these issues and will usually cancel coming to work during their periods. Absenteeism and school dropout have a notably significant impact on the quality of life for a woman. The additional pressure of family and stereotypes makes it more likely for women to get married early and have children while still in their teens, and affecting her economic sovereignty and primary lifestyle just because of the unspoken nature of the society on sanitary pads.
There are stricter actions taken by the people and the Government to face the actions head-on. There is an increase in public toilets and private toilets in schools. A crucial step for schools, like mandatory classes on the importance of menstrual health for both boys and girls, ensures educational content for puberty hitting teenagers.
Wonderize claims that periods should be talked about more naturally in the civil realm, and menstrual hygiene must rise as a personal necessity. A lot of improvement still has to be accomplished.
Conclusively, the vital purpose is that every girl in every part of the society has access to sanitary napkins during their periods, and is conscious that monthly discharge is a normal body function and that nobody has the right to shame her for that.