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 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 body. 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 has 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
Now let’s move out a little bit to our
beloved and fancy Europe and how graceful their taboos are.
The beliefs of UK and 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
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.
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