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| | |-+  Menstruation Stigmas in India
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Author Topic: Menstruation Stigmas in India  (Read 14599 times)
Posts: 39

« on: March 17, 2014, 11:13:56 AM »

As a female in a Western country i take it for granted that I benefit from certain key elements of knowledge about my body and its functions. Reproductive health was taught to me at school when I was around 10 or 11. i knew what I was supposed to do if I began menstruating. Contraception and abortion was explained in detail as I attended an all girl school which made discussion easier.

I take it for granted that not all women in the world have that benefit. In "developing" countries so many practices that are dangerous continue to abound as male arrogance still perpetuates that women are some "unclean" object when they are menstruating.
The main argument is that women are weak from blood loss so that is why there is a level of discrimination. I don't believe it. I find it utter nonsense.

In Hinduism (I use that term broadly), my grandparents warned me that I could not partake in any rituals if I was at that time. I was banned from cutting any vegetables or preparing meals or assisting with the sacrificial area for prayer that day. I did not and do not suffer the same tribulations as the women in the highlighted article do. At the Muslim school I attended, women were not allowed to the mosque if they were menstruating as well.
In my family, when women came home from childbirth, they were not allowed to leave the house or have visitors for some days after. My grandma explained that they weren't clean yet. Reflecting, I realize it it probably due to the bleeding associated post childbirth.

The following article is the reason I felt the need to express the previous sentiments. We have to wonder at what risks women are exposed to because of ignorance, arrogance, patriarchal dominance even superstition in parts of the world.

 For the full article: http://jezebel.com/what-life-is-like-when-getting-your-period-means-you-ar-1542273510

In Jamu, Radha's village in western Nepal, her status is lower than a dog's, because she is menstruating. She is only 16, yet, for the length of her period, Radha can't enter her house or eat anything but boiled rice. She can't touch other women – not even her grandmother or sister – because her touch will pollute them. If she touches a man or a boy, he will start shivering and sicken. If she eats butter or buffalo milk, the buffalo will sicken too and stop milking. If she enters a temple or worships at all, her gods will be furious and take their revenge, by sending snakes or some other calamity.

There is not space even for one person to lie down, but tonight there will be three. Radha's relative Jamuna is also menstruating, and she'll be sleeping here along with her one-year old son. Still, Radha appreciates the company, as another woman is some protection against drunken men who conveniently forget about untouchability when it comes to rape. Although the stigma keeps women silent, rapes of women sleeping in these sheds are common enough to appear as occasional items in newspapers in faraway Kathmandu, and common enough for women to look down when they are mentioned. Also common are snake attacks.
Posts: 1531

« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2014, 06:35:28 PM »

Not all these indigenous practices that are largely based on ignorance are about arrogance.  Sometimes, people who follow tradition are so distrustful of modern society with its high degree of disrespect, arrogance and intolerance that they remain unwilling to embrace ideas for change.  Western ideas and practices have a long history of robbing peoples of resources and stifles dissenting voices. It is not surprising, therefore, that some find conforming to modern societies discouraging.

In some cultures where their diets were deficient in iron, I suspect women got weak during and following their menstruation cycles. I read a book recently that shed some light on the importance of iron to humans in general but especially to women who lose a large amount of it during their menstruation cycles and during child birth. I am wondering if this in some way contributed to negative attitudes about the menstruation cycle. The book is: Sex, Time, and Power: How Women's Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution by Leonard Shlain.
Posts: 1266


« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2014, 11:46:58 AM »

Poor ideas of menstruation are also prevalent in Western societies. Although there is information about how females should address their monthlies, there is still a general squeamishness in which it is dealt with. Of course, some females have to take some blame because often, they do not scrupulously attend to hygiene issues . . . even those who are informed.   But more than that, Judeo-Christian ideas about the uncleanliness of females during this time still exists. I found this link which provides examples of biblical pronouncements on the issue including:

Leviticus 15:19-30
“When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean. And whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. And whoever touches anything on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. Whether it is the bed or anything on which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening.”


I know that some Rastafarians, Bobo Shantis in particular, adhere to this kind of thinking and disallow females from their worship spaces during this time of the month. They are also not to engage in sexual intercourse during this time and are isolated from males, and I think the community in general, during this time.

Here is another post on menstruation which brings to light other views on the subject:

Posts: 533

« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2014, 03:07:33 PM »

I would just like to give an example to this

Not all these indigenous practices that are largely based on ignorance are about arrogance.

There was observation in the past in some places in Buganda, that trees stopped fruiting once climbed by menstruating females. When added to the mystery menses already were, this observation attributed to viewing it negatively. Some families still report this and it works to maintain an old belief. Therefore, the rule of Baganda females not climbing trees, especially when menstruating, was not a result of arrogance.

The idea of 'pollution' or 'contamination' also has a certain truth to it, in regards to other females. In many African cultures there is a saying along the lines, "don't show me your (menstrual) blood". This is because it is known to them that one female's cycle can affect another's. Again, the idea of contamination in that context is not out of arrogance or male domination.
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