Life StylePakistanWomen & Children

Why Menstruation Is A Taboo Topic We Need To Talk About

Story Highlights
  • Rural areas
  • Urban areas
  • Change we need

In the past, women used rags and other pieces of fabric to soak up the blood from their periods. However, due to societal stigma and a lack of awareness about reproductive health, hygiene standards have declined, and as a result, many women have contracted infections.

Rural areas

In rural areas of Pakistan, women who menstruated were subject to the same social shame and legal limitations as women who did not menstruate.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has warned about the suppression of menstrual health education for women in Pakistan.

As a consequence, both their emotional and physical well-being are negatively impacted.

Many women avoided airing out their sanitary towels because they were too embarrassed, even though moist towels are a breeding ground for germs due to the stigma surrounding menstruation.

In addition, it was common for women in the same household to reuse sanitary napkins, which greatly increased the likelihood that someone in the household would get an infection of the urinary or reproductive tracts.

Northern Pakistan is a very conservative region of the nation where sex education is not taught in schools (like most places in Pakistan) and is seldom addressed, especially among women, in private households.

Half of the young Pakistani women surveyed by Unicef in 2017 reported having no prior awareness of menstruation.

Urban areas

In urban areas, particularly among the wealthy, things are different. Access to even the most basic forms of feminine hygiene is challenging in the conservative Muslim nation, where sexist prejudices linger.

Sanitary pads may be purchased relatively easily, but at a high cost, in Karachi, a city often considered the most liberal in Pakistan.

Shopkeepers who stare at women are a major reason wives prefer to have their husbands do the shopping for them.

Sanitary napkins sold here are packaged in opaque paper instead of clear plastic packages. In our culture, menstruation is shrouded in secrecy and viewed as taboo.

Change we need

After twenty years of battle in Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh, the very first sex education sessions have been put into practice.

One of their primary objectives is to eradicate the shame surrounding menstruation in regions where it is the most common reason for young women to discontinue their education.

This important factor in the lives of young women must be considered when planning the layout of classrooms and other learning spaces. Menstruation is a physical and psychological burden for young women, and the lack of access to water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities in schools is a direct barrier for them.

Schools can and should make sure girls have a safe and welcoming environment to learn in, and they should work with other stakeholders like the government to ensure they have the resources they need.

Although it may be awkward to bring up the topic of menstruation, addressing the stigma associated with it requires open and honest discussion.

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