Maintaining one’s hygiene is the most important task to lead a healthy life, and this takes center stage during menstruation. The situation, however, is stuck up in the rural areas of India here women still face hygiene challenges especially when it comes to menstruation. A research conducted in the Chamrabaad village of Bokaro district, Jharkhand reveals that the pond where women bathed was also the dumping ground for those few who used sanitary napkins. Their ordeals don’t just end here for these women are the worse sufferers of hygiene problems.
Lack of Closed Spaces
Most rural households lack separate closed spaces which can be used for bathing and excretory purposes. The reality is that when you can barely make ends meet, hygiene issues become the last of your priorities. This is what forces women to bathe in the open in ponds, wells and the like. Because of this lack of secrecy, they bathe wearing clothes which add to the moisture accumulating all over their body, especially the genitals, thus giving rise to numerous diseases.
Use of Cloth over Sanitary Napkins
Lack of financial resources not only prevents one from getting a bathroom constructed, it also leads to the inability to buy other necessities to maintain proper hygiene. The use of cloth to absorb the menstrual blood leads to the accumulation of germs even if it is washed regularly. Most of the time rural women don’t even find proper places to dry their clothes out of shame that is associated with the menstruation social taboo and inability to buy sanitary napkins make menstruation a monthly face-off with deadly diseases.
Lack of Knowledge
Education is another important part of the human development which is absent from the life of rural women. In families where finance is an issue the right to education is extended to women only as long as it is free. This among all other things renders them unaware of the problems that improper hygiene practices expose them to. It also adds to the existing taboos against menstruation and menstruating women. When you don’t know what is wrong, how can you be expected to correct them?
Menstruation, in these parts of the country, is considered an evil which women should be ashamed of. This approach leads to women trying to hide everything related to their period days. The easiest, most secretive place to dump the sanitary napkins turns out to be the place where you take a bath for men won’t come there. The situation is worse for those who use cloth for in order to prevent others from finding out their sin they dry clothes in places out of the reach of everyone, even sunlight, and this cloth is used throughout the period.
The Silent Treatment
Even if you feel the need to do something about your condition how do you talk about it? The head of the household, by whom all the proposals are passed in order for them to take effect, is a man. A society where menstruation is considered disgraceful, talking about it or the problems that arise due to it is simply impossible. Same goes for when you actually contact a disease for one, you can’t talk to the doctor about it, and two, when you are one of the earning hands of the house, who has time for ailments to be looked after?
While the globe is raging with issues of education and equal rights in all aspects for women, we often tend to ignore this important concern. I, therefore, appeal to all those who strive to make the country a better place for women to work for this field as well and ensure better health conditions for all.
Inspired by the Harry Potter movies, Anmol started writing short stories at the age of 7 (which were as good as they could be). Now 19, and pursuing a Bachelors in Business Administration, she has started writing blogs mostly on pop culture and issues that affect the masses. A feminist to the core, she hopes to work for the United Nations some day on their Women Empowerment projects.