Fighting the taboos

Among many problems faced by the women in Pakistan, one big problem is of their menstrual health. By stigmatizing the whole concept of menstruation, we as society have built strong walls of taboo around it. And as a result, 79% Pakistani women fail to manage their periods hygienically. And the conditions are even more drastic for the women of slums. Without having any access to education and products for menstruation they suffer the most.

I decided that for my Mega project me and my team will visit the slums in Lahore and provide basic education to the women about their period and how they can manage to stay safe even with meagre resources. My target area is slums because I believe those women have as much a right to safe period as I or any other privileged Pakistani woman has.

The women will be told about some basic tips to improve their menstrual hygiene. We will also smash famous myths revolving periods (especially the do’s and do not’s). We will be using pictures and demonstrations. Depending upon our budget and how much we get to fundraise we will provide the women with menstrual products as well.

With a couple of my friends I visited the slum area yesterday. I wanted to talk to at least three women in order to learn their opinion over the subject. I went into one of the camps and talked to this elderly lady. I eventually arrived at the topic. But as it turned out she told me that she was not very comfortable in talking about it.

The next lady I met was nursing her new-born. And while talking to her I got to know about the unclean practices women opt due to lack of awareness.

Lastly, I met another woman. She was a middle-aged. And fortunately, she gave me lots of information over the subject. She said that the area is disease and poverty prone. Young girls get their period as early as 9 or 10 years of age. Women use cloths and often they keep using the same one during the whole course of menstruation.

Talking to these women about the struggles they face made me felt good. At the same time I felt really bad because we never highlight these issues and consider them taboos. I also realized that it is an intimate topic and not so many women would be willing to listen to us or be a part of this campaign. Yet I am hopeful, and I think that how hard it may seem we need to work on this issue.

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Bushra Mahnoor

Writing is all the catharsis I need | Psychology student | Feminist