Kochi/Kollam/Koyilandy: Menstrual period needn’t be considered as days of shame, said Arjun Unnikrishnan, founder-volunteer of ‘Red Cycle,’ a Kozhikode-based initiative that strives to shatter gender stereotypes and rip off the shroud of shame associated with “those days.” He was addressing about 60 employees, including around 20 men, attending a sensitisation workshop of the Customs Commissionerate at the Customs House, Willingdon Island on the occasion of World Women’s Day.
Implementing the concept of equality in society hits a roadblock given our approach to menstruation. From childhood on this period of an organic feminine body function is frowned upon as “unclean filth,” warranting banishing from the domestic space, which according to this mindset will otherwise be defiled. Arjun also said that such deliberate confinement causes mental trauma in girls, with the saddest aspect being that women themselves are the perpetrators of this social malaise. Both sexes actively participated in the interactive session. Jt. Commissioner B G Krishnan and Dy. Commissioner N S Raji attended.
Later in the evening, inaugurating a workshop of around 70 female students in T K M College of Engineering, Kollam, Arjun said that the subject of menstruation should be made a matter of open discussion in the state. He lamented that parents, who should ensure the health and well being of their children at all times, were themselves complicit in consigning their daughters to the clutches of shame and self-loathing.
Women are forced to artificially suppress this biological activity while re-entering their own homes by taking medicines. This disrupts the cycle and sometimes the period will resume after a gap of three months. The bodily discomfort and even greater mental harm it causes is alarming. Arjun said that the scarier fact is that if this is what happens among the educated class, the fate of women from a less privileged background is best left to the imagination.
He also dwelled on the pressing need to have a government policy on the issue. It should be taught in school and college campuses with emphasis laid on the aspect of hygiene. Arjun observed that the menstrual period was being used as a ploy to ostracise women from the public sphere. When he mentioned that transgender too menstruate, it was a new knowledge to the astonished students.
He also mentioned that it was solely because of ‘Mathrubhumi’ that this subject, which was till quite recently veiled by polite society is now spoken of in a matter of fact fashion. The organisers, including Dany P Joshua and Bianca Binoy, too attended.
Volunteers Shibli Suhanah, COO of Wish Foundation, Uduma and majoring in Criminology & Forensic Science/Psychology/Rural Development and Kozhikode Medical College house surgeon, Litta Paul, had a session at SARBTM Govt College, Koyilandi. Nearly a hundred 1st year students, a fifth of them boys, attended. Some of the girls revealed that they were using old-fashioned cloth because of the comfort it provides and not because they couldn’t afford the new-fangled sanitary napkins.
Fine Arts Secretary, Arya Sajith welcomed the gathering, which was inaugurated by Abhinand N, college union Chairperson. A vote of thanks was proposed by Vice-chairperson Alaka Suresh.