I got my first period when I was 13. Almost all of my female friends knew about periods, and I was quite late as compared to them. One day a guy in my class noticed my period stain and asked me what that is. I was terrified as I had zero know-how about what periods are and why they happen or whatsoever.
A friend of mine tied her sweater around my waist and I rushed to my teacher. She helped me and sent me home. I am 25 now and at the age of 23, I bought my first menstrual cup online in India. From the day when I was 13 till now, nothing has changed. Why? Let me tell you.
What happened when I reached home?
When I reached home I was red with embarrassment, shocked, and almost in tears. My teacher dropped me. I tried to hug my father to narrate the story, but instantly I was stopped by my grandmother. I was asked to take a bath and I was kept isolated for seven days.
Now girls know how to order a menstrual cup or how to use one but at a time when I had no idea about what periods are, I was just told that this happens with every girl and you have to bear with it. I slept on the floor, isolated from the kitchen, my room, and from everyone thinking I am impure. After seven days there was this festival for coming of age. That kind of cheered me up, but as my next cycle started things again went back to the same situation.
Did things change?
No. Even now I am not permitted to enter sacred places like temples at home or outside. My grandmother still prefers for me to be isolated during my periods. I am forbidden to touch the plants in our home and I can’t even touch my brother or my father while I am menstruating.
These rituals seem absurd for me and to some extent to my mother, but my granny is still very strict about these norms. It isn’t just me I believe. Women still have to buy sanitary pads wrapped in newspapers because, in India, where literally Kamasutra was born and the caves of Ellora are filled with intimate graffitis, we women don’t have the freedom to talk about menstruation and our intimate issues. You say hypocrisy; I hear progressiveness in menstrual hygiene in India!
Where the change should start?
The change must begin at the very first step. When I initially had my periods, I had no idea about what menstruation was. I was 13 and yet clueless. Women should be educated about menstruation. I hear several incidents about how girls still drop out of school due to their periods.
This shouldn’t be the case. Women should move to sustainable ways to manage periods like using a reusable, organic period cup. Now I have surely got a menstrual cup online in India, but women still have no idea about how to order a menstrual cup.