As a kid, whenever I was told I couldn’t enter a temple when I am on my period, I used to think to myself, “ah, how will they know if I am bleeding or not, are they going to pester me to undress? No way.”
In a college in Gujarat, India, 68 girls were forced to remove their underwear to prove they were not menstruating. “It was sheer mental torture and we don’t have words to describe it,” a student who underwent the traumatic experience told TOI, adding that there were total 68 girls who were forced to pass through the test. The name of the college is ‘Shri Sahajanand Girls Institute’ and ironically, the college’s aim is “self-development and empowerment of girls through modern, scientific, and value-based education”. The education Institution was set up in 2012 by followers of Swaminarayan Mandir in Bhuj (Nar Narayan Dev Gadi). The college was moved into a new building on the premises of Shree Swaminarayan Kanya temple in 2014. According to the norms, menstruating women are not allowed to enter religious places, kitchens and not even touch each other.
You can read the whole account here.
I read a quote recently on Pinterest and now it stays with me:
“Menstruation is the only blood that is not born from violence, yet it is the one that disgusts you the most.”pinterest
Women have been oppressed for a long time now and the taboo around menstruation is still strong and continues to baffle me. Bleeding is a life process, it does not make us impure. Period shaming in the name of religion is not acceptable anymore, it is 2020 and yet period shaming is now mainstream. Religion has nothing to do with biology.
Is the suppression of menstruation and restricting us when we are on our periods a form of oppression? Yes, it is.
Is forcing young students to undress to prove they are not menstruating a form of sexual assault? Yes, it is.
At every level, this is mortifying. What gives them the right to ask young women to undress? In no way are they allowed to steal our dignity! Girls did speak up but were threatened into silence. What kind of buffoonery was it?
The freedom of women continues to be in the hands of the patriarchy. The dominant patriarchal notions force women to believe that they are impure during ‘that time of the month’. Women are prohibited from entering the religious and pious places and are not supposed to touch any holy book. The shame around menstruation and periods is so immense, I mean, look at what happened in Gujarat. Following the news, I read a few tweets mentioning how some private schools used to have books where the girls were supposed to write their bleeding dates. This kind of neglect and policing is a step back from the emancipation of women.
Period shaming is a legit thing and women are made to feel embarrassed for bleeding. The feelings of self-hate and embarrassment are obviously reinforced by the patriarchy.
The stigma attached to menstruation is very real. Almost every girl I am close to has a secret word for periods. A friend of mine used to call periods as ice cream back in 2014. It is high time women’s bodies should be accepted the way they are and the way they process. Suppression of every “women-related” issue has to become a thing of the past.