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Shubhangini Shaktawat
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Period poverty and stigma
Period poverty is basically the lack of menstrual hygiene or shortage of access to menstrual hygiene or menstrual education and anything and everything in relation to it in terms of medical facilities, healthcare facilities, waste management, sanitation facilities, etc. Stigma, usually social in nature, is the negative attitude or opinion or discrimination against a person based on distinguishable characters that make him/her different as compared to others. Period poverty in today’s date is leaving a large negative impact on a huge number of children, men and women. Social stigma causes period poverty in a great scale. There are multiple ill-effects of the stereotypical thoughts that inculcate this stigma in people’s minds. The society has made this social stigma act like a curse to all women out there. Stereotypical religious, traditional and customary beliefs have made periods look like an evil and demonic process which causes the entire society to discriminate against women and females. It is considered taboo, which is the main reason behind the lack of menstrual hygiene, education, sanitation and healthcare facilities, etc. Some traditional beliefs say, women cannot enter the kitchen, or visit temples, or touch food and water, or some of them do not even step into their own homes when they are on their periods. In rural areas, girls still use old rags or pieces of cloth in place of pads or sanitary napkins. They’re treated like untouchables and this is a sort of torture. They fall ill very often and catch serious diseases and illnesses due to lack of education, facilities in the presence of these social stigmas. It negatively impacts women and girls as they have to drop out of school or work at times and they also lose out on a number of educational and economic opportunities due to the same. It should not remain to be considered taboo as it is a natural process. It should be normalized and children, both boys and girls should be provided free of cost menstrual education starting from primary school, carried on till later years in life. This would largely help the coming generations in the educational, medical and stereotypical aspect. It would free them of this social stigma and periods, sex and puberty will cease to be taboos, social stigmas and women will be able to gain the respect they deserve in the society.
A woman myself,
Shubhangini Shaktawat