She is a part of our household ever since I remember. She use to come as a part-time domestic help at my mom’s place and now she comes like the sun rises every day. It won’t be too much to say that I have seen her hairs in all shades of grey! Her name is Anima. I call her maashii. She is over 65 and has a full fledged family comprising of her husband, two sons, two daughter-in-laws, a daughter and her spouse, and a few grand children who live in a village near Sunderbans. But she still prefers to earn her bread and butter. She says she doesn’t like it if she doesn’t come to work even for one day.
A couple of weeks back, when I had gone to visit my parents, my mom gave a few packs of whisper ultra which she got for me from the wholesale market. Being a regularly used essential commodity, I keep a stock of it and its cheaper too if we buy in bulk. She saw and exclaimed in her bong accent “O baba! Ki korbe ato shob packet?” ( O God! What would you do with so many such packets?) I was a little perplexed as she knew well what were those packets for. I said “Don’t you know what are these for? Don’t you buy something similar for your daughter and all?” I was taken aback by the conversation that followed.
Maashii – “If I had so much money I would buy better things than this.”
Me – “But this is important for the health of us women. You guys don’t understand the importance of hygiene. Buy the cheaper ones. What do you do instead?”
Maashii – “We use cloth, what else! For us the good old cloth is best. We can reuse it also. We can’t afford this fancy stuff. Tomra bodo lok didi, bodo badi te thako aar maashe 150 taka tomar kachhe kichhu nei. Amader kachhe toh jol o nei” (you all are rich people, stay in big houses, for you 150 rupees every month is nothing, but we don’t even have enough water”
Me, absolutely taken aback, “what kind of living arrangements do you have for your daughter and all and your grand daughter?”
Maashii – “Is the underwear you wear unhygienic? You wash it and wear it every other day. Just getting cheap pads (sanitary napkins) does not solve it all for people like us. Come to our village once then you will get to know”
She changed the course of my thinking from there on. First of all, I am not promoting the use of cloth at all here. We directly associate cloth with lack of hygiene because we view menstruation in a dirty way. Because of this women end up with no access to clean sunlit areas to dry their cloth. And so they do the needful in damp nooks and corners of the house or under other clothes which makes them infectious and prone to uro-genital infections and bacterial vaginosis. They also have lack of clean water to wash the cloth. They have no or minimal access to clean private changing areas.
NGOs and CSR programs distribute sanitary napkins to girls and women in rural areas. The use and throw convenience have led the rural population to adopt the pad. Legends like Arunachalam Muruganantham have brought a revolution in this direction. There are many educators, social activists, journalists working voluntarily for the cause. The convenience of disposing pads, and social taboo surrounding the cloth led to surge in usage of disposable sanitary pads.
But there is a big BUT here. There are issues like operational clean toilets, availability of enough clean water, clean and private spaces for changing for females. And like a boomerang, there is again a problem with the disposal of used sanitary napkins. They cannot dispose it in the bins like us. There is no waste collection in the rural areas. They have to go certain miles to either bury or burn it. These women also end up disposing the pads in their local ponds. Unfortunately, in the same pond where they bathe and wash their clothes. My astonishment and remorse knew no bounds when I saw this – https://qz.com/910094/sanitary-napkins-form-the-bed-of-a-bathing-pond-in-india-what-personal-hygiene-is-like-for-rural-women/
Digging a bit deeper, the sanitary napkins that we use are too not so safe. It is a proven fact that use of sanitary napkins may cause cancer. Prolonged use of it makes you susceptible to bacterial growth, commonly called toxic shock syndrome. They contain chemicals and bleaches that may be fatal for us in the long run. So not just the environment, it is a threat for us women as well.
So shouldn’t we be looking at reusable sanitary hygiene products instead of disposable ones. And stop ourselves from generating tonnes of waste. Let’s make our periods sustainable for our environment as well as for ourselves and our future generations. Thus we have the new mega star, the menstrual cups. Though weighing the pros and cons of menstrual cups and its acceptance is an agenda in itself. The attitude of the society is surely changing but it has to be brought out in the open, and discussed loud and clear for the sake of our own health, our future generations and environmental sustainability. Let us just say that we have a long way to go in dealing with menstruation hygiene and women needs.
This World Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28), our endeavor is to break the taboo that engulfs this natural phenomenon that is the basis of very existence of human life on earth. This post is a part of a Blog Train hosted by Anupriya of www.mommytincture.com where 14 wonderful ladies have stepped forward to express themselves this #MenstrualHygieneDay and stress on the fact that there are #NoMoreLimits for a woman.
I would like to thank Indu Srimal for introducing me. She is an Indian lifestyle blogger who loves to keep everything stylish and unique. She blogs about fashion, beauty and her crazy DIYs creating the much required filters for us on https://www.filteryourstyle.com/
And, also I would like to take this opportunity to introduce Siddhi who is an author, book reviewer, freelance content writer and editor and above all a Mother. She is an avid reader and loves to hoard books. Apart from her baby and books there is an array of topics under her wide blogging umbrella at https://ofbookbabiesandmore.wordpress.com/
But wait there’s more! You stand a chance to win a DEA Corp Menstrual Cup worth Rs. 2500/-. You just have to visit http://www.mommytincture.com/2018/05/27/menstrual-cups-boon-menstrual-hygiene/ and leave a comment about your #NoMoreLimits experience.