Breaking the Taboos of Menstrual Health in Urban India

In a recent incidence in Maharashtra, a guy mistook period stains on his sister’s clothes for evidence of a sexual relationship, demonstrating the prevalence of menstrual ignorance in urban India. Despite living in the open, girls and women suffer period-related issues due to shame, stigma, and discrimination.

What exactly is menstruation?

  • Menstruation, often known as a period, is the normal vaginal bleeding that happens as part of a woman’s monthly cycle.
  • It is a typical stage of development for girls and women who have reached puberty.
  • Every month, the body of a girl or woman prepares for pregnancy.
  • If no pregnancy develops, the body eliminates the uterine lining.
  • Menstrual blood is made up of blood and tissue from inside the uterus.
  • A period can last anywhere from 3 to 7 days depending on the individual.

Menstrual Hygiene Barriers in Cities

  • Inadequate Awareness: Low-income urban women have a limited understanding of menstruation and menstrual health, which leads to poor hygiene management and practises.
  • Limited Access to Menstrual Products: While menstrual products are more readily available in cities, they are sometimes covered in paper or black plastic bags, adding to the accompanying shame and stigma.
  • Inadequate Toilet Facilities: Toilet facilities in low-income slums, pavement dwellers, educational institutions, and workplaces are not easily accessible, safe, clean, or convenient.
  • Poor Waste Management: Improper disposal of menstrual waste endangers sanitation workers’ health and dignity by forcing them to filter through waste without proper protection.

Actions for Improvement

  • Consistent efforts should be made to improve period awareness, address detrimental societal norms, and challenge gender stereotypes around menstruation.Menstrual Product Availability: Reusable and disposable menstrual products should be made more accessible through retail outlets, government schemes, social entrepreneurs, and NGOs, allowing people to pick the items they like.
  • Female-Friendly Toilets: Initiatives such as ‘She Toilets’ and ‘Pink Toilets’ should be expanded to provide safe, private, and clean facilities with needed amenities for period management.
  • Menstrual trash Management: Innovative solutions such as placing dustbins and incinerators in female restrooms, as well as trash segregation programmes such as the ‘Red Dot Campaign’ and ‘PadCare Labs,’ can help with waste management.

Moving Forward: Closing the Gaps

  • Getting to Marginalised Groups: Efforts should be undertaken to reach those living in unregistered slums, on city streets, in refugee camps, and in other vulnerable urban locations. Outreach programmes, community participation, and collaborations with local organisations can all help to give accurate information, menstruation products, and improved facilities.
  • Workplace Support: Both official and informal workplaces must attend to the menstruation needs of working women. This can involve providing clean and private restrooms, guaranteeing period product availability, and advocating supportive workplace practises that meet menstrual health needs.
  • Menstrual Waste Management Innovations: It is critical to continue to support novel menstrual waste management solutions. This covers both safe and effective disposal options, such as incineration or ecologically friendly alternatives, as well as scalable approaches that may be used in a variety of metropolitan settings.
  • Engaging Men and Boys: Promoting gender equality and shattering menstruation taboos necessitates the involvement of men and boys as allies and advocates. Educating children about menstruation health, addressing gender stereotypes, and cultivating supportive attitudes can all contribute to the creation of an accepting and inclusive workplace.
  • Strong research and data collecting on menstruation health in urban areas are critical for evidence-based interventions and policy design. Data collection on facility access, product usage, hygiene practises, and health outcomes can help direct targeted initiatives and track progress.
  • Partnership Development: Collaboration among government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), business sector entities, and community-based organisations is critical for comprehensive and long-term solutions.
  • Education and Public Awareness: It is critical to continue raising awareness regarding menstruation health. Comprehensive menstrual health education in schools, community workshops, and media efforts to dispel myths, question social conventions, and encourage good attitudes towards menstruation are all part of this effort.
  • Advocating for supporting policies at the local, regional, and national levels can aid in bridging structural gaps. This includes campaigning for menstruation health as a public health priority, guaranteeing financial allocations for menstrual health projects, and incorporating menstrual health into broader health, education, sanitation, and gender equality policies.

@the end

As the globe commemorates menstruation Hygiene Day (May 28), it is critical to recognise menstruation health as fundamental to personal health, public health, and human rights for everyone. Urban India must break down barriers, raise knowledge, improve access to products and services, and promote effective waste management. We can enable girls and women to navigate public spaces with dignity and safeguard their general well-being by addressing these challenges.

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