In India, 335 million young girls and adult women have a monthly menstruation, but 200 million of them have no relevant information on hygiene during this period.
The lack of menstrual information in India´s rural areas is so great that we considered it important enough to hold a hygiene workshop for adult women from our Self-Help Group.
While we hold this workshop each year for the female students in our schools, we believed it was necessary to also offer it to their mothers so they can understand the importance of supporting their daughters and providing them with sanitary towels and good advice. .
“Less than 2% of Indian women live a normal life when they have their period, the rest suffer limitations such as not being allowed to cook or having to sleep in a separate bed or bedroom from their partner or family”
“Many women in India are considered impure during menstruation and are discriminated. They cannot take part in family reunions or touch a jug of water”, as stated by Archana Patkar, the expert on the Council for Water Supplies and Collaborative Sanitation (WSSCC), depending on the UNO.
Above are the findings of a survey carried out in India by the WSSCC on the handling of menstrual hygiene.
The survey also revealed that only 30.2% of adult women and young girls knew what menstruation is before having it for the first time and over 80% believe that period blood is “dirty”.
“When they have a period, for example, they cannot enter the temples because the men consider them “dirty”. Female hygiene is unheard of, and less than 10% use sanitary towels, with the majority of women using a rag which they wash when it is soaked in blood and then wear it again”
A period is something not mentioned, even among women, who are ashamed of it and have never had any sex education. Most women think it´s related to childbirth, or something “only God can explain“. Boys have less idea and think that it is “an illness only women suffer” (Last Sentence documentary)
Each day for a week Mala Devi and Guriya Devi have held a workshop for different Self-Help groups on female hygiene. It was the first time these women had ever heard a talk on menstruation and had the opportunity to speak so openly on a subject which is taboo for them. The majority are not aware of their own anatomy and no one has ever spoken to them about menstruation. They use pieces of material for sanitary towels which it is hard to wash and dry out of sight of the men.
Sanitary towels, soap and knickers were distributed to all the women taking part in the course.
In the workshop they were given practical information on menstruation, how to use sanitary towels, the importance of hygiene on these special days and when they should see a doctor. They were able to share their anxieties and doubts and were taught various yoga postures to combat menstrual pain
At the end of the course, each woman received a packet of sanitary towels to encourage her to use them as in India they are cheap. They also received some knickers and a bar of soap.