In many societies around the world, taboos associated with menstruation, combined with an overall culture of silence around the topic, limit the ability of women and girls to fully and equally participate in society, underestimating their self esteem and status.
Menstruation is a major stage in a girl’s puberty. It is a natural biological process and one of the physical signs that a girl is getting close to the end of puberty.
However, in many countries like Pakistan, it is associated with various myths and restrictions leading to lack of awareness among adolescent girls.Insufficient menstrual hygiene practices are the cause of stress affiliated with menstruation and reproductive tract infections.
In Pakistani society where, even the sanitary pads brands are named as ‘Stayfree’, menstrual taboos are unspoken, yet omnipresent. Periods are not openly discussed in our society making adolescents vulnerable to them.
For women in our society, menstruation is much more than just a biological process – it is another way of prolonging gender discrimination.
“Don’t take a bath ,don’t apply perfume, don’t eat spicy food, don’t drink cold water. ” These are some of the myths young girls in many parts of Pakistan believe to be normal practice during menstruation.
According to studies, girls in Pakistan have very limited knowledge and related hygiene practices. Schools and teachers are reluctant to discuss periods leaving the mothers or older women in the family as the primary source of information for girls. Unfortunately, most of the time, such information about periods is shared to girls after they have their first period.
Such dated traditions and cultural taboos associated with menstruation still persist at the expense of women’s health and safety.
Due to these taboos, women can not properly talk or address something that is a simple and ordinary biological process.
It is high time to reclaim the freedom to talk openly about periods without making it look like a taboo or something a woman should be ashamed of.
As a collective duty of the educated members of the society, as a part of our school education and a responsibility of the governmental health sector, comprehensive health education programmes should be conducted in each part of the country to eliminate various misconceptions and taboos related with menstruation.
Information and awareness programmes need to strengthened to spread awareness regarding menstruation for young girls and women.