Menstruation is still a sensitive topic, often surrounded by social taboos and discomfort. With a wife and a 14-year-old daughter at home in Canada, journalist Surjit Flora experiences their shame and embarrassment on a monthly basis. Time to tackle the taboos in this guest blog.
– BY SURJIT FLORA –
It’s sad to see so much misinformation about taboo topics, especially concerning young girls and women in our society. Being exposed to incorrect information perpetuates harmful stereotypes. We must tackle this issue directly and give accurate information to empower and educate girls and women.
There are still myths holding back girls and women in society today. Despite progress in gender equality, persistent misconceptions hinder the potential of half the population. Women from all backgrounds often feel ashamed discussing menstruation, regardless of their age, education, location, or financial situation. Debunking common myths and challenging the status quo is crucial in order to create an inclusive and empowering world. By exposing misconceptions, we can empower ourselves and promote accurate knowledge about this natural process. Let’s uncover the truth behind five myths that hinder girls and women’s progress towards gender equality.
1. You’re not impure during your period
Many cultures have ancient beliefs about menstruation, especially about girls being considered impure during their periods. Girls are told not to cook or visit sacred places because of their menstruation. The belief that girls are impure during their periods comes from cultural and religious traditions. That’s why, first of all, it’s important to acknowledge that menstruation is a natural bodily function for half the world’s population. It’s a natural part of life and women shouldn’t feel ashamed or limited because of it. Menstruation shouldn’t be linked to impurity or negativity. Buying sanitary products should be as normal as purchasing other personal hygiene items, like soap or toothpaste.
2. Plants don’t care if you’re menstruating
Surprisingly, some people still believe that girls should avoid plants during menstruation because they think it’s harmful. This outdated belief, based on superstition and false information, only continues to fuel baseless fears and limit the freedom of young women. There’s no scientific evidence to support the claim that touching or approaching plants during menstruation is harmful. Plants thrive with proper care, regardless of their caretaker.
3. Food choices don’t directly affect menstrual flow
Certain foods like curd, tamarind, and pickles are believed to disrupt menstruation. Although lacking scientific evidence, this claim has been a long-standing topic of discussion among women. Many people believe in adjusting their diet during their period. It’s important to note that the impact of these foods on menstruation is mostly based on personal stories, and more research is needed. Contrary to popular belief, food choices do not directly affect menstrual flow.
4. There’s no need to sleep separately on your period
There is ongoing debate about whether girls should sleep separately during their periods. Some say it’s for hygiene, others think it creates stigma and isolation. This practice is based on the belief that menstruation is unclean and should be kept separate. It’s important to clear up this misconception. Menstruation is not contagious or harmful to others in the same room.
5. There’s absolutely no need for shame or silence
For ages, menstruation has been a secretive and stigmatised topic, usually discussed quietly and privately. This culture of silence continues the cycle of shaming and ignorance. We should challenge this outdated thinking and promote open discussions about periods. We should all be comfortable talking about menstruation. Have a normal conversation about your period, just like you’d talk about personal grooming and beauty routines. such as hair, makeup, and nail polish advice.
Raise awareness, share knowledge, provide sanitation and include men
With these five myths debunked, let’s focus on raising awareness and sharing knowledge. Raising awareness is crucial to empower girls and women and to achieve gender equality. By sharing knowledge, we can inspire and motivate young girls and women to achieve their goals and be successful. Mothers should not avoid discussing certain topics with their daughters, such as rights, health, and education. Empowering girls and women is highly effective as it has a significant impact on individuals, communities, and even nations.
It’s also important to understand the importance of providing access to sanitation facilities in today’s world. The availability of sanitary napkins is a major concern as it directly affects the health, well-being, and dignity of women and girls. Sanitary napkins are a basic necessity that should be accessible to everyone, not a luxury. Affordable sanitary napkins are especially crucial in rural and slum areas, where resource constraints make it difficult for people to access hygiene products. Without affordable options, women may use unhygienic materials like rags or leaves, leading to infections and health issues. Additionally, the lack of sanitary napkins can prevent girls from going to school and women from participating in employment.
Last, but certainly not least, let’s explore the role of men in challenging the deeply ingrained myths. Teaching boys about menstruation is an important step on the road towards equality.
About the author
Surjit Singh Flora is a veteran journalist and freelance writer based in Brampton, Canada. When his 14-year-old daughter started getting her periods, she didn’t want this mentioned to her dad as she felt ashamed and embarrassed. To show there’s no reason for feelings of shame – and to stop the various menstruation misconceptions he’s encountered – Surjit Singh Flora wrote this blog. Follow him via X/Twitter.
Photo above: Shutterstock
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