Like minded group of youngsters had recently come together in Pune to speak about menstrual bleeding; a topic on which discussions are not generally carried out and speaking on about it has a social taboo attached with it. The talk was titled ‘Masika Charcha’ or ‘Period talk’ and youngsters discussed their own experience of how and when they were introduced to the topic of menstruation.
The group has now resolved to meet once in every three months and talk on topics related to menstruation along with sex and gender.
Praveen Nikam, a city based young social worker who is founder President of Roshani foundation and who had recently written to Arun Jaitley requesting 100 per cent tax exemption on environment friendly pads said, “There isn’t a culture of talking openly on this topic. We are planning to start a discussion once in every three months on topics related to menstruation. There is need to see if women want a paid holiday on the first day of their period. Also, we plan to discuss on topics like, what the first experience of periods were or how different genders look at menstruation etc. These things can be done only with the discussion.”
The talk began with a celebration of World Menstruation Day by distributing chocolates to all present. Roshani foundation which works in the areas of sanitation and education in Pune had organised a talk where experts working in the field of sanitation and menstruation were invited to talk and share their experience. College going students shared their experiences of how they were introduced to the topic of menstruation and sex not by their family but from their friends.
Meena Ranpise, a professor of Sociology from Sir Parshurambhau College, Pune, said, “People do not talk about it openly. When I allow students to talk on such topics openly, other professors from the college criticise me and say that you have given a lot of freedom to students.”
Pradnesh Molak, photo artist from the city spoke about Wari and menstruation. “When it comes to Wari (annual pilgrimage in Maharashtra), there will be separate arrangement for those who are having their periods. Menstruating blood in these cases is treated as impure and a separate provision is made for these women in Wari. At one end we see gender and caste equality in Wari and at the other side there is a special provision for menstruating women,” he said.
Boys and girls who are pursuing their education in Pune and have come from different rural parts of India, mentioned how it was cultural shock to them when they saw boys and girls interacting with each other on the topics like sex and menstruation. They also shared how after few months they too opened up and started talking freely about these things.
“Girls in Gadchiroli who go through menstrual cycle are asked to sleep in something which they call ‘Kurma’ (menstrual hut). The Kurma is very tiny and unhygienic place. There are still more than 80 per cent in rural India who cannot use sanitary pads. There are totally different issues of women from rural areas when it comes to menstruation,” said Abhishek Bhosale, Associate Professor at Ranade Institute of Mass Communication, Pune.
All those who were present, opposed government’s recent move to tax sanitary pads.