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Posts Tagged ‘menses’

For pocket, planet and a happy period: Nirmala talks about the menstrual cup

In Field Notes on 5 April 2017 at 10:41 am

One form of untouchability that we must work to eradicate is menstrual untouchability.  Unique to women, this oppression is based on the idea that a woman’s body is defective and dirty, and can pollute people and spaces if not kept in check.  A recent incident in a school in Uttar Pradesh highlights the need to fight the notion that menstruation is a cause for shame or punishment.  The principal of Kasturba Gandhi Residential School in Digri village made 70 girls strip and be searched for menstrual blood.  Following complaints by students and parents, the principal was fired.  Parents and teachers of  girls should help them to manage periods comfortably and to value the vitality in their bodies, including their menstrual blood, which makes it possible for a woman to nourish new life.

It is good that the community in Muzzafarnagar took decisive action against this outrage; yet menstrual untouchability persists in stark and subtle ways, not only in far flung villages but also among the urban educated.   In the march to consign menstrual taboo to the dustbin of history, one important step is to make periods more comfortable.

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Saves water, saves money, is comfortable: The Menstrual Cup

In What on 22 March 2017 at 8:00 pm

A couple of years ago, my friend Nirmala, who lives in a village in Srikakulam district decided to try the menstrual cup.  Recently I got a chance to chat with her about it.  She was quite happy with it – one of her first comments was that it really saved water.  They get their water from a pump – fortunately the pump is in their own front yard, but still, every bucket saved helps.  All the more so for women who collect water from a distance, especially in times of drought.

Today being World Water Day, here is a short excerpt from our conversation about the menstrual cup.  Stay tuned for the longer clip.

Liberté, Égalité, Non à l’intouchabilité!

In Field Notes on 14 July 2015 at 8:00 am

10 years ago today, I first used the cup. It helped me transform my personal fight against menstrual untouchability to a public one.


Allons enfants!

What do you see in this picture?  Just a family enjoying a day out.  All day, I might add.  There was a time when I would have preferred to plan such an outing on a more convenient date – one when I was not menstruating. Read the rest of this entry »

Reusable menstrual hygiene products: pros and cons

In What on 13 May 2015 at 12:46 pm

It was just after noon in Mumbai.  Our book club was just winding up and people were chatting in the cafe.  A woman called me aside and said, “is it really such a drawback to forget the date of your periods?”  She was referring to an article that appeared in the newspaper, where I called the “worst thing about the menstrual cup” the fact that wearing it made the days of one’s period feel so normal, that one could forget about it altogether.   “I meant it ironically,” I explained.  It’s like saying, “my worst fault is that I am too generous.”  “Oh!”  she smiled.

So when Bindu Mohanty of the #PeriodofChange Campaign asked me for a frank opinion on the pros and cons of reusable menstrual hygiene products, I almost began to reply in the same tenor.  Because, after all, are there in fact any cons?

Silhouette-of-ten-women Read the rest of this entry »

Disposable Pads: The Medium and the Message

In What on 11 May 2015 at 8:00 pm

What, in your opinion, are the pros and cons of disposable pads?  (If there are no pros you can list only cons.) 

 –   A blogger in Chandigarh

women talking shadowWhen asked to write about the pros and cons of disposable menstrual products, I remembered what a friend told me when she decided to give cloth pads a try.  Her mother was aghast.  Why do you want to do all that washing every month? she asked.  I was so glad when disposable sanitary napkins appeared in the market, I thought at last my daughter won’t go through all the same toil I went through during those bloody periods.

Why indeed?  Her daughter, my friend, proceeded to list the various negative health and environmental impacts of disposable pads and said that she didn’t want them next to her skin, she didn’t want to generate so much trash, and she wanted to practice a solution that would be affordable on a modest income.  That it would provide livelihood locally pleased her as well.

Her mother relented.  If disposable pads had so many cons maybe the time spent washing cloth was not wasted after all.

But was that, in fact, the only pro? Read the rest of this entry »

Earth and Moon: Period of Change

In Call to Action on 22 April 2015 at 12:42 pm

I wrote this post for the campaign by Earth and Us and  The Kachra Project on menstrual hygiene management.  It appears on The Kachra Project as Sustainable menstruation and making the informed choice.  The campaign starts today, Earth Day and continues until May 28, declared as Menstrual Hygiene Day.  For the first week of the campaign, the topic is: Sustainability and Menstruation: From the body of the earth to the body of the woman.

Sun, Earth and MoonAs the moon revolves around the earth, our monthly cycles remind us of our capacity to give life, confirm that we are not currently doing so, and require us to take special care of our personal hygiene. Have you heard people talk about “sustainable menstruation?”  Can something so fundamental to the sustenance of life ever be unsustainable? Read the rest of this entry »

The Worst Thing About the Menstrual Cup

In What on 15 March 2015 at 12:00 am

This article appears in The Hindu as “A life-changing cup” on 15 March 2015.

Menstrual cup

Menstrual cup

The Worst thing about the Menstrual Cup

Is it the cost? The weirdness? Is it the difficulty of inserting it? The messy removal? Or the cumbersome cleaning?

No, none of these is the worst thing about the menstrual cup. Women who have these problems generally get over them after a few cycles. And the cost, while high, is recovered. But there is one problem that just doesn’t go away.

What you will often hear from women who use the cup is that it is life-changing. This cannot be reduced to the sum of saved money, saved time, saved environment or any such mundane savings. What is saved is at another level altogether. Read the rest of this entry »

Bravo! Anisha Bhavnani on Menstruation

In Call to Action on 14 February 2015 at 8:18 pm

Bravo to this young woman, Anisha Bhavnani, and her Amma.  All of us need to stand against untouchability in its many forms.   Let us see that our daughters can also answer “no” to the question Anisha faced. Read on ….




Hasn’t your mother told you that you can’t step inside a temple when you have your period?

Find the link below:

Thanks to everyone who’s followed, liked or shared my blog. The fact that my work has an audience is truly inspiration to write more. I love you guys! 😀

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Seven Fallacies about Menstruation and Culture

In Call to Action on 3 April 2014 at 11:15 am

Several people have forwarded to me an article, written by an educator, connecting “ancient wisdom” to the practice of menstrual taboo, and pitying the misguided women who expect modern ideas of gender and feminism to empower them.  After cataloguing popular justifications for menstrual untouchability and suggesting that they come from a time when women enjoyed respect, indeed worship, in contrast to the present context of crimes against women, the author concludes that menstrual taboo is a matter of “personal choice.”

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  Would those who condone menstrual untouchability extend their reasoning to untouchability that is not limited to women?  Is it also a personal choice for us to connect to the “ancient wisdom” through the practice of untouchability and caste segregation?  With more than enough relatives who would be all too happy to think so, I take this as a wake-up call Read the rest of this entry »

Menstruation is the New Black

In Call to Action on 31 March 2014 at 8:05 pm

First, the bright side.  People are talking about menstruation.   Nearly 10 years ago when I submitted “Greeting Aunt Flo” to a daily Indian newspaper, the editor replied:

A fascinating story!  But I doubt if our conservative paper would use
it…. Too bad, though, because many women would find it really interesting!

In 2008 during a session on Gender issues at the AID conference we reached back 30 years and read aloud from Gloria Steinem’s what-if scenario “If Men Could Menstruate.”  She wrote that in 1978!  Oddly enough it begins, “Living in India …”  Could we ever imagine to find something discussing menstruation so boldly, written in India today?

In 2010 when we started manufacturing and marketing cloth menstrual pads in the villages of Srikakulam District some of the village level workers balked at the idea Read the rest of this entry »

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