Men­strual hy­giene: So­cial work­ers feel PM Modi’s speech will help de­bunk myths

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - Comment -

When the words ‘men­strual hy­giene’ were men­tioned by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi in his In­de­pen­dence

Day speech, it was surely a first. And this has given a new shot of en­ergy to so­cial work­ers who’ve cham­pi­oned the cause for years.

“PM Modi is the only PM who spoke about men­strual hy­giene on such an im­por­tant day. And men­strual health isn’t a topic to be shoved in­side black poly­thene... When some­one like him talks about it, it in­fuses re­newed life and en­ergy in peo­ple like me, who have been try­ing to nor­malise dis­cus­sions about it. Ab ghar-ghar dis­cuss hoga, dabi awaaz mein nahi, khulke!” says An­chal Sharma, founder of an NGO, Meals of Hap­pi­ness.

Delhi-based Anurag Chauhan, who’s been try­ing to spread aware­ness about pe­ri­ods through Break The Bloody Taboo cam­paign, says, “Once, I was in Ra­jasthan’s Chomu vil­lage to ad­dress a fe­male gath­er­ing on this sub­ject. One of the ladies, must be in her 60s, asked me if I also men­stru­ate! Ini­tially, I thought she’s mak­ing fun of me, but soon, I re­alised she was se­ri­ous, and was shocked to hear her say, ‘Kya pata, jaise main chu­pati hun, vo (my hus­band) bhi chu­pate ho’. Imag­ine the level of un­aware­ness on this topic among women like her, who are mar­ried and have kids... So when a man, and that too the PM of this coun­try, talks about pe­ri­ods on I-day, it not only boosts our morale, but also helps spread more aware­ness.”

Lalitha Yadav, who pro­vides ba­sic hy­giene essen­tials to sex work­ers and un­der­priv­i­leged in Delhi’s GB Road and Na­jaf­garh as part of an NGO, So­ci­ety for Par­tic­i­pa­tory In­te­grated De­vel­op­ment (SPID), says a mere men­tion of the sub­ject has set the ball rolling.

“Now, when­ever we will ad­dress the is­sue among our au­di­ence, we hap­pily re­fer to Modiji’s speech. This helps us take the con­ver­sa­tion ahead,” she adds.

NGOS say the level of aware­ness about men­strual health among women in far-flung ar­eas has been very low

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