Menstrual taboo outdated

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I have seen my sisters and friends isolated and treated in discriminatory manner during their first menstruation cycle. They were not allowed to look at the sun, to touch water source, flower, fruits, any male family member, nor even hear their voice. The activist may claim the situation has changed and I do agree but still during every month my loved ones turns into untouchables beings.

Menstruation is a natural biological phenomenon that happens not only to human being but also with mammals like dog, elephant, bat etc. Modern science sees menstruation as a blessing when we are seeing it as a curse. According to Marcelle Pick (OB/GYN NP), a Women to Women Clinic in Maine, America, the benefit of Menstruation are that it slows the aging process, leads to healthy and satisfied sexual life, it acts as a sign of hormone balance, improves mood and appearance, reduces bloating, acts as natural cleanser, releases frustration and anger. While Nepali culture and various cultures in the Indian subcontinent consider menstruation as a sign of impurity, there are communities who believe that it is a blessing. Apache Indian Tribe welcome first period with four-days-long celebration. Likewise the Native American sees it as sacred phenomena which help spiritual growth.

If our community had understood the benefit and sacredness of menstruation, there would not be the need for any activists shouting loud that menstruation is a boon, not curse and stating is as an example of structural violence against women.

I have not seen any scriptures telling that Goddess Parbati stayed away from Shiva during her menstruation period, neither Goddess Laxmi stayed wary she’d touch Bishnu during her menstruation.

History has ample examples of many practices which started with good intention, but with time transformed into orthodox, superstitious practices. In the past, keeping women away during menstruation was a logical and very effective way to keep women separately from men, and not to let them go into kitchen, temple and water source since there were healthy sanitary pads like today.

Many activists claim that Hindu Dharma is the cause of structural violence against women in Nepal. They forget that Shakti (a form of femininity) is worshipped by Hindus. Hindu Dharma talks about tat tvam asi i.e. we are made up of same element, Purush (Masculine) and Prakriti (Feminine) are complement of each other, Matri devo vawa (Mother or feminine is god). Hence, the problem doesn’t exist in Hinduism, but in community’s inability to change age-old superstitions and malpractices.

The Supreme Court in 2005 banned Chaupadi Pratha that forces menstruating women to stay in sheds. But the practice still exists in various parts of far-west Nepal. This should end and all should join hands to end this violence against women.

(Adhikari is an undergraduate student of Law at Kathmandu School of Law)



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