Menstrual Hygiene and taboos in Bangladesh
Mst. Taznin Nahar
Menstruation is a common phase of a girls’ life as well as the major physical sign for being a women. It gives her the opportunity to be a mother but it is regarded as a secret and shameful issue in low income and middle income countries like Bangladesh. For some social norms and beliefs, it is not discussed openly. A girl does not know about the menstruation before it starts with her. So, it is not easy for her to be prepared for it in early period through knowing required information about maintaining hygiene properly. A survey revealed that, 64% of girls are not introduced with the on menstruation before menarche. There are several restrictions that avert themselves from doing their regular everyday chores at their monthly period time. Restrictions are not only accustomed in rural/ poor families, it is maintained in urban and rich families also. During the period time, they are told not to touch food, cooking utensils or can not got to the kitchen. It is also prohibited to visit mosque of temple during the monthly period time. Moreover, it is restricted for hindu women to touch cows or even the cow shed because cows are holy. In some areas, women do not go outside during the period time. They do not leave their homes for all the seven days each month. Women have to clean whole house after the end of her menstruation each month because the widespread belief that menstrual blood is pollutious and dangerous and without cleaning the whole house and they can’t perform their everyday prayer.
Most Bangladeshi families are too poor to buy sanitary pads, and instead use rags torn from old saris and other clothing. RITU, a menstrual hygiene awareness project co-created by RedOrange Media, Simavi, and The Netherlands Organization (TNO) conducted a research regarding the menstrual taboos common in our country and the adverse effect of those. In their reseach, it is found that, the cloths they use for menstruation do not expose to others even their brother and father. For hiding it from the male members of their family, they dry it in sneaky places which can cause great harm to their health. According to a survey conducted by ‘National Hygiene Baseline Survey’, 89% of the surveyed girls who used cloth instead of sanitary pads during the time of menstruation, stored their menstrual cloth in a hidden place and repeatedly use without washing them in a proper way. Doctors said that it may lead a girl to infertility.
For breaking those taboos, it requires a joint project by government and the private agencies. They must have to work in each community to raise awareness. It is also necessary to work with teachers to ensure that they have the necessary facts and that they are prepared to teach these subjects; however, it is also important that teachers are not espousing gender unequal norms whilst teaching these subjects. Fathers, mothers, community leaders and boys can play negative or positive roles in addressing the barriers for safe menstrual hygiene management.
So, lets start the initiative to change the mindset’s of people of not making a big deal of menstruating women. Girls’, let’s face period with self-confidence!