Is the status of menstruating women in our religiously strong nation really substantial?
While we have Akshay Kumar making a movie on sanitary napkins, creating awareness on health and hygiene of menstruating women; Menstruation Hygiene Management programmes run in educational institutions, it doesn’t mean all is well in a country which has half its women population menstruating.
It’s been less than a week since 68 girls were made to strip by a college in Gujarat to check if they were menstruating and had meals with other girls. And now Godman Swami Krushnaswarup Dasji from Swaminarayan Mandir also in Gujarat has ‘showered’ light on the rebirth of menstruating women as a ‘kutri’ (female dog or bitch if we may say so).
Not only this, but the swami also went on to quote scripture that men who consume the food prepared by menstruating women will be born as bullocks in their next life. We are also aware of the ongoing Sabrimala row in which women in their monthly cycle are prohibited from entering the shrine.
India naturally being a religiously strong nation for eons, these ideologies have deep roots. Here, we aren’t really questioning the religious beliefs of our country, but these incidents call for a good reason for us to introspect and reflect where we stand as a society and a developing nation.
What we really need to realize is that does the once-a-month bleeding woman, which is what makes her a ‘woman’, make her repulsive and us so uncomfortable that our religious sentiments could hurt? What if the women in their prime age weren’t menstruating? Would they still be called ‘women’? Would they still bear children?
No doubt we have scores of programmes and forums encouraging us to speak about the ‘silent’ subject and get out of the ‘hush-hush’ zone. It is true we need to talk about the issue more openly, but that isn’t enough for unless we change the way we think, educate our young generations the right way and have religious scholars having more empathy towards women, we are far-far away from being a sensitive-society.