We have all encountered menstrual taboos in India up and close. It is discussed continuously how, even in the 21st century, people are still following illogical rules followed during menstruation that were laid centuries ago. It gets really frustrating when people discriminate and still consider periods as dirty. But it’s not just Indians who deal with such ignorance. These taboos are prevailing around the world, and the struggle is the same. Irrespective of how developed countries are, they have their own unique believe that degrades menstruation and menstruating females.
One universal taboo that is shared among all countries is “period blood is dirty”. The explanation is that it comes down to our vagina, it must be dirty. But it is not. Period blood is similar to any blood that comes out of our body from anywhere. It doesn’t contain toxins and doesn’t detoxify our bodies. It’s one real purpose is to protect the embryo. And if there isn’t one, the blood comes out of the body.
Now let us discuss all the various taboos that are followed blindly around the world.
Let’s start with our own continent, we are aware of what menstruating India women have to go through. A similar process is followed in Bali, Indonesia, where women are prohibited from entering the kitchen, temple and have to maintain distance from all family members, including her husband. Women have to wear different clothes during menstruation.
In Nepal, an age-old practice called chhaupadi is followed. According to this practice, women are asked to leave the house and reside in a hut while she is on her periods. It is because a female is considered impure during those days. Many girls get raped, and even die because of this practice and hence it has recently been banned in Nepal.
In China, menstrual products are considered dirty and pollutants. There is a big misconception related to tampons. Chinese think that if a virgin uses a tampon, it will break her hymen and she will not remain virgin anymore. Only two percent of Chinese uses tampons.
In Japan, females are asked not to go to an onsen (a public hot spring) because it is believed that menstrual blood can cause infections to other people. Another most common belief is that a menstruating female cannot make sushi because her taste palate is distorted.
Similarly, in South Korea, periods are considered dirty, and people do not like to talk about it openly. Females try to hide their period pads and tampons.
In Malaysia, a very unique practice is followed where one is asked to wash their pads before they throw it out. It is believed that if the same is not done, then ghosts will haunt you.
According to Philippines culture, one should wash their face with first menstrual blood to have glowing and clear skin
Now let’s move out a little bit to our beloved and fancy Europe and North America and how graceful their taboos are.
UK and US
The beliefs of the UK and the US are quite similar. Some are inherited in India as well, like “don’t touch pickle”. Many believe that the process of pickled vegetables can go bed if touched by menstrual females.
Another thing that is quite common is how they view PMS. PMS is merely being irritable ad nothing more.
They also ask to avoid essential cleanliness as baths are not allowed during periods. It is believed that water can stop the blood, which can cause an irregular period that is bad for health.
One of the most bizarre taboos resides in Poland. It is believed that menstruating women can kill their partner if she has sex with them. Because of this, periods are considered monstrous.
In Brazil, one cannot wash their hair for the first three days. It is also strongly believed that walking barefoot can cause cramps. If only one has knowledge of how cramps work.
Italy and France
In a lot of countries, menstruating women are considered evil or incapable of making food. Like we saw in Japan. Similarly, in Italy, it is believed that dough won’t rise if made by a menstruating woman, in fact, everything the female cooks would be inedible. And In France, one cannot make mayonnaise.
It is just absurd how, after coming so far in the area of education, people are not ready to shed their flawed belief system. The biggest problem is the art of not asking questions. Asking questions is considered as being a rebel. People, especially girls, have to follow these practices that are making their lives sufferable. One phrase, is uttered around the world when asked for an explanation of actions – “this is how our ancestors did it, and you must follow as well” but why? There is no end to it but to simply open our minds and grow together. We shouldn’t let our current generation and our future generation suffer as our ancestors did.