“यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते तत्र रमन्ते देवताः”
‘Where women are respected, there exists the Almighty’
Every girls dreams of becoming a mother someday! and the way to it is through “Menstruation”. I have been closely working with women who are seen as impure because of ignorance or say lack of education, as menstruation in our society is seen as an impure monthly cycle. I have been working with nearly 150 women every day 3 years with different organisations to make them aware of the importance hygine associated with Menstruation and to englighten them that it is not impure, rather a routine physical cycle required for every young women.
The inspiration behind launching this campaign came from my own journey, as I myself come from a small town, where also the ignorance about Menstruation is rampant. After coming to Kolkata while pursuing my Master’s Degree in Social Work, I also become associated with various Social initiatives, I also started working with several organizations including one that works with the sex workers in Kolkata’s Sonagachi, Asia’s largest red-light district.
I came face to face with real issues of women here that includes cases of sexually transmitted disease and female urinary tract infections, which causes severe ill health which leads to death due to the ignorance, social myths, taboos and low economic conditions. Sex trade & menstruation both are strong issues and taboos generally people don’t talk about. I have seen them using old torn clothes as napkin which they reuse and don’t wash properly. On the other side they don’t have enough money and the luxury of going out and buy sanitary napkins from medical shops. Moreover they are not enough educated to understand the entire menstruation process rather they think it’s a bad and impure physical process, which happens to their bodies every single month. The taboo against menstruation is so strong that they don’t even discuss among themselves as they were taught not to talk about it in public from their childhood. For them it’s ‘Kharaab khoon’ or “Bad blood”.
I launched this campaign ‘ Project Masik Mantra’ on 8th June, for menstrual health of sex workers in Sonagachi and trying to reach out to many through social media platforms, i.e. Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter where the sexworkers are sharing their own stories and penning it down in my post irrespective of their gender. It has opened a door for men and women to come forward and share their part of stories and support towards this cause. The journey which has started virtually will reach ground with time and I am certain this will break the taboo against menstruation as taboo.
In the campaign we are stressing on the use sanitary napkins instead of using old clothes to maintain the hygiene and have a good health while they menstruating. It is through the campaign we are also trying to reach out to the government both at the Centre and State to come forward to help this citizens of the country by educating then about menstrual cycle and also by providing them with sanitary napkins.
Let us make a promise to ourselves, “One napkin One smile” to spread this to everybody and turn it into thousands of smiles to the sex workers, let’s bring some sanity in their life by providing them sanitary napkins.