Saturday, May 28th is Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD) again. Still necessary? Yes! In some parts of Bangladesh, menstruating women and girls can’t leave the house for seven days.
Thulburi has four sons and one daughter, Sonamuni. Every month, Thulburi asks Sonamuni if she has started her period yet: ‘We have our own traditions when we start our periods. We don’t let the girl leave the house for seven days. She is not allowed to eat fish, eggs or salt, and she is not allowed to see male members of the family. To clean herself, she needs to go to the canals at 5am and late at night when no one can see her. After the seven days, seven important people are called in to bring her a feast. Tumeric is rubbed on her face and arms, just like at a wedding ceremony.
Thulburi expresses what many of her generation think: ‘Locking away menstruating girls and women has been a tradition for many centuries, so we have to keep it.’ When Sonamuni tried to challenge this tradition by stating that she refused to be locked away once her period started, her family was not pleased.
However, Sonamuni is not the only girl who feels that this is an unwanted tradition. During a discussion with an all-female community group in Lackatoorah, many girls felt that as society is changing, there is potential for loosening traditions. Disrupting traditions involves the entire community. Thulburi is skeptical and knows that this change will not be easy, ‘Who will go and tell the men?’
Menstrual Hygiene Day raises awareness of the challenges women and girls worldwide face due to their menstruation and highlights solutions that address these challenges. Sympathize with this event that’s initiated by Wash United? Spread the news via social media by using the hashtag #MenstruationMatters. For more information, visit: Menstrualhygieneday.org/.