Four Days Of Every Month
A month beholds 30 golden days (Average) but majority of Nepali women have 4 lesser days because of menstruation and this biological process is discriminated in several ways and forms. The overdue equality or isolation may be of less intense for someone and maybe more intensive for other one, but still in the amidst of this 21st century we have 4 days deducted in every month. This social constructivism does not only shackle the self-determination, psychology and self-esteem of females but also effect on social, economic, cultural and dignified identity of the country itself.
Okay, I agree the fact of growing economical growths, infrastructural development digits but is that just what we need? Is development only confined to economy and infrastructures? What would we do with these rates and digits and reports when our teenager girls are still isolated in the Chau Goths of western part of Nepal? As a women I would like to ask every readers out there, have you not faced or still not facing some sort of discrimination during your periods? Are you equally free and socially/ religiously independent in these camouflaged 4 days?
Is it so impure to menstruate, do your lovely daughter becomes untouchable for those 4 days? There are cultural practices and misbeliefs we still need to abolish and till we don’t this current development is apparently lame. The same daughter who is worshipped and loved as goddesses is isolated during those days, entering kitchen becomes a sin and no one will even drink a glass of water fetched by her. Where is the fundament of these practices? It’s in you, in me and in our society which now needs to redefine the process of menstruation and its social respond.
Time has passed, developments are happening, the literacy rate has gone far up and voice for the rights of woman is escalating, however every now and then news like, “A small girl was raped during the stay in Chaupadi, a woman has to suffer the heavy blood loss during child birth in Chaupadi.” are yet to full stop. Identify crisis, unawareness, unavailability of means and services with social dogmatism relating to menstruation has hindered growth bringing issues of health and disparity in our society. It’s an irony of how this transitional phase into womanhood, sexual activity and reproduction, where girls and woman’s need this time to be understood are protocolled with the clauses and the sanctions of the cultural dogmatism regarding leaving more than half of its population on self-doubt and identity crisis, and being concerned about social stigma then how can Nepal grow?
We can trace back menstruation as long as the existence of females. I don’t believe people were inclined towards practicing untouchability on the face of survival. Talking about the context of Nepal, these four days of a month were given to girls and woman’s to rest and to find self away from responsibilities adhered to mother, sister and daughter in law in the patriarchal society. A time given in transitional phase where female could understand bodily and hormonal changes and the self within that change. In four Vedas, the foundation of the Santana Dharma has not anywhere stated that woman during menstruation are impure and should not participate in any daily activities or in religious activities. In fact, it’s said that both men and women should participate inAgnihotraYagna which is done on a daily basis.
The Shukla Yajurveda 26, 2 clearly states
Like this Veda delivers these wisdom and knowledge without any discrimination regarding gender, caste and other fragmentations, it is expected that the reader or scholar shall also deliver these knowledge equally to people from all gender, caste and status quo.
Prohibiting women from entering temples and castigating them as impure is squarely against the teachings of the Vedas. But, somewhere we lost the touch of its essence, the idea of isolation upscaled into discrimination. The mirage of socially constructed noises and whispers of impurity and seclusion is not serving any of genders. It came to a point where it’s not a biological process but a negation of women identity and solidarity. In a country, where each week rape cases prints in headlines, where girls are asked to be careful to go out even in evening, where there is neither sanitation facilities nor water supply or toilets, where idea of pads is still foreign luxury; let’s not add the burden of constructivism into the natural inhibiting process.
We cannot fortify nor glorify the fact thatadolescent girls in Nepal lack consistent access to education on sexual and reproduction health.41% of woman aged 20-24 in Nepal gets married before the age of 18, according to UNFPA. The adolescent fertility rate is 7.1 per thousand woman aged between 15-19 yrs. with wider differences in urban and rural settings (33 % urban and 80%rural). These many girls neither have opportunity for safer reproductive health nor the ease psychological mindset during menstruation. The closed off idea of not touching, not talking loudly, not entering temple, asking for pad in very low voice is not doing benefit to anybody; neither to religious/social preachers nor to women’s or girls.The main concern right now seems in the data where only 28% of public schools in Nepal have a separate toilet facilities for girls, where 38% of households does not have toilets. We can imagine how difficult it must be to change during menstruation, with no water there will be more not washed hand leading cooking and feeding bacteria’s to whole family. The disposal is going on bare land where bacteria’s transmits all over in foods, water and soil; the means of production and healthy living. There lacks water, proper pads disposal and the healthy diet which is important during periods. Only the free iron tablets during pregnancy and allowances would not reduce crude death rate, reproductive health issues, if a young female is not in a leverage of understanding her issues and making right decision for healthy and sound body. More than sixty thousand female in Nepal are suffering from uterine prolapse which is caused due to unhygienic habits during menstruation, a major reproductive problem.Only 15% of females used pads and the rest are using cloth pads which are not maintained.Its roots are on ease and awareness that should be provided during menstruation cycles not when matters goes out of hand.
Nepal is a country of community. Once new is always seen as strange. But, without newness we surely cannot bring the change. In order bring thechangeon issues of Identify crisis, Unawareness, Unavailability of means and services with social dogmatism ;community and group based approach would be best in Nepal. The mass awareness can be generated through schools by informing about menstruation, reproductive health and hygiene to young girls and boys. A counselor and health worker can facilitate and educate young girls, where they can also share their feelings openly and understand about it. A social worker, medical personals should facilitate woman through community campaign and services ensuring direct participation of woman. Generating awareness through stories, dramas with involvement of local people would be a mileage to communicate, talk and discuss about the issues .Enabling woman groups and AmaSamuha, by group work practitioner with discussion about sanitation, hygiene, building toilets, having nutritious food, buying pads and by informing facilities provided by Government and giving training on hygiene and sanitation on first hand would mitigate issues around adult female.The comprehensive mirage on deeply rooted ideas of Chau by making people understand about its real essence by community practitioner without hurting dignity of religious and social preachers and concerning health of females. We all need to be aware of policies and the gap of society which needs to be addressed. The prime example of the positive change of lobbying is the free pads provided to community schools from government,
Be the change you want to see so from individual level, Let’s talk to our daughters, sisters, brothers, fathers, friends freely about red spots, red stain, mood swings and cramps, where it becomes natural to be in that state. Let’s not try to pass the message of shame and impurity to young guys as they will be the future husbands and fathers. Let’s at least try to eat on tables or in Pirkas with all family members during menstruation. Let’s be more open in schools and let’s not shut down in shame to those who questions, lets question and find our answers too. If we cannot buy pads now, let’s use clean cloths and dry in sunlight without feeling shame about it. Let’s try to gift pads, comfort and ease on each birthday and on each anniversary to little girls and woman’s. Let’s talk and be more open and see if we can make affluent Nepal.
( Devkota is a student of Masters in Social Work)
Leave a Reply