Menstrual myths and taboos in different communities of Bangladesh

2 (607 x 450)Sadia Haque Jui
Menstruation, also known as period is a regular discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina. It makes hormonal balance and prepares the female body for pregnancy. It is a natural event but it has always been surrounded by some extreme taboos and myths in many societies which exclude women from many aspects of socio-cultural events in the rural areas of Bangladesh. This article reveals some myths and taboos about menstruation that are prevalent in Bangladesh.
Islamic laws prohibit fasting for the menstruating women. Moreover, women lose much blood from their body and they need more nutritious food and iron during menstruation. But in Bangladesh, though Muslim women don’t fast during period they can’t eat food properly. They have to pretend like fasting in front of the male members of their family as the discussion of the topic is considered taboo in Bangladesh.
During menstruation period, women in Hindu communities of Bangladesh can’t interact or touch men because there is a common misconception that men will catch diseases by these menstruating women termed as unclean. And after the menstrual period women have to wash every single thing they touch during menstruation. They sleep on the floor with a single bed sheet. Women even barred from entering holy temple as society levels them as dirty and impure.
Women in poor communities use cloth as sanitary napkins, because it is relatively inexpensive and renewable. But they feel ashamed to hang clean cloth used during menstruation outside with other laundry. So, they hide and wear napkins for a long time which causes deadly infections. Moreover, if women feel severe pain during menstruation still they keep silent, they don’t demonstrate the severity of the situation and they don’t take medication only because it has to be kept secret. Old menstrual clothes must be buried or evil spirits will be attracted to them. This myth is found in the tribal people of Bangladesh. They believe menstruation makes women so unclean that their used clothes have to be buried. Otherwise evil spirits will attract them.
In rural communities of Bangladesh it is considered that, touching rice container during menstruation will destroy production of rice and it will bring bad luck to the family. In some communities it is observed that women having menstruation can’t go outside the home, can’t attend classes during period, otherwise evil spirits will attack them and they will be cursed with infertility.
Human race exist in the world due to menstrual blood but why it is consider impure by the society? These myths and taboos are not only insane but also they are huge impediments of women empowerment. In Bangladesh about 70% girls learn about menstruation from their mothers. So, institutional education about menstrual period need to be emphasized more otherwise these traditions will persist infinitely. Awareness need to be raised and educating mass people in rural areas on this issue in developing countries can eradicate these misconceptions and taboos.