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Period positivity or period taboo

Published : Saturday, 5 June, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 670
Sharmin Kabir

Founder of Wreetu a non- profit organization

Founder of Wreetu a non- profit organization

In our social context, period talk is stigmatized. Menstruation is a taboo and a topic that is discouraged not to be discussed with anyone. When a girl reaches her puberty, she is asked to remain silent about her physical, social and emotional changes. Our families and schools are hardly open to this discourse. As period follows puberty, most of the girls start their menarche without having any scientific and biological reasons of growing up, pubertal changes and period. Rather, they receive all kinds of weird social myths that period is shameful which attributes to various social stigma that period is awful, menstruating girls are impure and many more. These experiences force a girl to perceive that her physical changes are a 'curse' which often breeds inferiority complexes, low self-esteem and period hatred at the very early stages of the learning cycle.
This challenge for the young girls (even for boys) could easily be solved if the menstrual talk would start early in their puberty. "In my journey of building a period friendly Bangladesh since 2016, I consciously discovered one thing. "It's not about the gender, it's all about the time when we are giving an orientation to period talk to our boys and girls to build an empathetic period friendly Bangladesh."
My experience of conducting sessions with both boys and girls aged 10 or 11 years is very much different from conducting a session with boys and girls aged 12 years or more. The first group take period discussions as a normal topic like any other subjects they study in school such as Mathematics or English whereas the latter group cannot let go of or unlearn the taboos that they learnt about period from their surrounding environment.
Period positivity or period taboo

Period positivity or period taboo

Consequently, they start to display intolerant attitudes to even welcome the thoughts that 'period talk is normal'. Unlearning that period is a taboo become very difficult for them since discarding previously held negative ideas about period which had been taught to them by the society is overpowering and their minds are already closed off than if they were learn about period without any misconception.
In my offline and online interactive sessions, I always welcome the pre-teen (age 9/10 years) participants. The benefit of this session at an earlier stage is that I am injecting Period Positivity to adolescent girls and boys before the society injects Stigma, Shame and Taboo. As a result, they don't even react to the word 'Mashik' or 'Period' as they are oriented to believe that 'Period is normal'.
Manha Tahsin was our youngest participant aged 7+. She reads in class 1 at Sunbeams School. Manha says, "I really enjoyed Wreetu's short course on Puberty and Period. It was really a fun way to learn. Now, I have learned not to be scared about periods and  now I know how to be  ready for it. I will also share the experience with my friends and educate them about Period".
In my offline and online interactive sessions, I always welcome the pre-teen (age 9/10 years) participants. The benefit of this session at an earlier stage is that I am injecting Period Positivity to adolescent girls and boys before the society injects Stigma, Shame and Taboo. As a result, they don't even react to the word 'Mashik' or 'Period' as they are oriented to believe that 'Period is normal'.
Like Manha, we should give menstrual education to all girls and boys at their early puberty or pre-teen age. This orientation that 'Period is normal' requires less effort to teach the young girls than educating them when they have already got a preconceived notion that period is shameful.



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