Missing Voices & Missed out Issues

Through this Dialogue we want to bring these center stage some urgent menstrual issues, that must be prioritized in the larger menstrual narrative..We all read the recent news of Vijaylakshmi, a 14 year old girl, who died inside the menstrual hut in Cyclone Gaja in Tamil Nadu. (story link https://bbc.in/2Gst1mi). Dignity of menstruating women and adolescent girls or the danger of menstrual waste in rural India, already a big challenge in urban India etc.

Missing Voices

Koi Tribe women – Daringbadi block, Odisha

Being a woman, comes with a set of challenges.. The good news is that menstruation, a basic biological process women deal with every month, has, over the last few years been a subject of development sector attention and policy level changes.. But there are still some missing voices on the margins whose menstrual challenges need urgent attention.

Consider this… Parents of disabled girls consider having their daughter’s uterus medically removed, to avoid sanitation problems arising when the girl would menstruate and to avoid a possible pregnancy if the girl was sexually abused. One of the hardest things about being homeless, is being a woman.. While Shelter, hygiene, dignity are a far cry.. every month they face a crisis of deciding between a pad and food.. Being part of a larger tribal population struggling for basics, tribal women face the brunt of lack of nutrition, education, early child bearing and reproductive health complications. On the other hand migrant women we commonly see outside construction sites face many difficulties like lack of privacy and facilities to manage their menstruation, living in cramped, unhygienic surroundings, using unclean, poorly lit, shared toilets or forced to go for open defecation..

Missed out Issues

Menstrual Hut – Gabbilalagondi, East Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh

These and many issues like menstrual waste, lack of research around connect between menstrual health and reproductive health or lack of infrastructure that are bothering women across the country. Consider these;

One crucial but Missed Out issue is Women’s DIGNITY. Women routinely face indignity, shame and humiliation, subjected to discriminatory practices, considered impure and untouchable. We believe menstruation is a human issue, not women’s issue when countless women aged 12 to 50, are subjected to these indignities every month.  

The Big Miss even within the menstrual product centric discussions is that Cloth Pads are summarily rejected, even though cloth is a viable option, as its biodegradable, reusable, affordable, accessible to millions of women. All it needs, just like market products, is awareness about how to hygienically use and dispose.

The Big Miss has also been deliberation on the impact of plastic based non biodegradable menstrual products going to women in rural India which has comparatively less infrastructure, sanitation, disposal and waste management facilities.

Some Voices and Facts..

Missing Voices

A question posted on Quora “Do prostitute work when they are on their periods?.” To which one lady, who was in the profession answered, “If we didn’t, it would be a 1 week unpaid vacation every month of which when you are running a business or you have a career or just any job that you are dedicated to, it’s not practical.” She also mentioned, women use birth control to stop their periods or use a sponge to stop the flow of the blood.

Written in:- 2017

Written by:- A question was posted on Quora. A sex worker answered the question

Source:- https://www.quora.com/Do-prostitutes-work-when-they-have-their-period

Missed Out Issues

According to a study conducted by Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DSMC), a Kolkata based sex workers committee, 40% of sex workers use cloth during menstruation. Mostly sex workers suffers from yeast infections and vaginitis, and in long-term problems like pelvic inflammatory disease, or sexually transmitted infections like trichomoniasis.

Written in:- 2017

Written by:- Shambhavi Saxena; Youth Ki Awaaz (under the campaign #Goalpebol of the National Foundation of India, to start a conversation around the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals)

Source:- https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2017/07/sex-workers-and-menstrual-health-in-india/

Missing Voices

“Even today at times of emergency while working in the field or when cloth is not available we use leaves from local Sal Trees.” (The women of Koi tribe) – Sugapada village of Daringbadi block, Odisha

Year:- 2016

Source:- Goonj


Missing Issues

The moment a girl begins to menstruate, she is taken to a little ‘hut’ on the outskirts of the settlement, where she is expected to stay for five days. She is brought back into the community after a bath. – Banagudi tribal colony, Tamil nadu

Year:- 2019

Written by:- Tamil Nadu Urban Sanitation Support Programme

Source:- https://www.indiaspend.com/most-indian-girls-are-unprepared-for-menstruation-taboo-behind-unhygienic-practices/

Missing Voices

“My clothes felt wet, I asked my friend, who is partially blind, to check if there was something on my skirt. She grinned and declared that I have grown up” (A differently-Abled girl from Shree Nakoda Karan Badhir Vidyalaya)

Year:- August 2018

Where:- The session was conducted with 50 deaf and mute girls along with 5 of their special educators in Shree Nakoda Karan Badhir Vidyalaya, Bhiwandi

Source:- Goonj

 Missed Out Issue

Parents of disabled girls consider having their daughter’s uterus medically removed, to avoid sanitation problems arising when the girl would menstruate.

In 2015-2016, 3.2%  of women (in general – whether disabled or not) age 15-49  who have had a hysterectomy (uterus surgically removed), India

Year:- 2015-16

Source:- National Family Survey Report (2015-16), Research paper on NCBI

Missing Voices

“We did not have any compartmentalized washroom in our shelter home where we can bath in private. Once I traveled all the way to Kalkaji to take bath” – Kamal, Rag Picker

Year:- 2019

Where:- A session was conducted in a shelter home in Nehru Place

Source:- Goonj

Missed out issues

Domestic workers are not allowed to use the toilets in the houses where they work. They cannot use toilets even when they are menstruating or have some problems, despite cleaning those toilets themselves.

Year:- 2018

Written by:- Meenakshi Tiwari

Published in:- The wire

Source:- https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/why-is-the-condition-of-domestic-workers-seldom-discussed-in-india-118060800193_1.html

Missing Voices

“It is our job to pick other people’s dirt. At times we have to pick worm-infested rotten kitchen waste. It does not worry us. What worry us are bloodied cotton, sanitary napkins and bandages.” –  Mina, a waste picker in West Vinod Nagar, East Delhi.

Year:- 2015

Written by:- Soma Basu

Source:- Down To Earth


Missed Out Issues

India has 12.3 billion disposable sanitary napkins to take care of every year, majority of which are not biodegradable/compo-sable.

Year:- 2019

Written by:- Down To Earth

Source:- https://www.downtoearth.org.in/infographics/managing-menstrual-waste-in-india-63356

When women and girls face difficulties with managing their menstruation, it negatively impacts the enjoyment of human rights and gender equality.

Year – 2017

Source:- Wash United