Eight of ten Indian girls are not allowed to enter religious shrines when they are on their period; six of ten girls said they are not allowed to touch food in the kitchen, and 3 of 10 are asked to sleep in a separate room.
That menstruation taboos still have firm roots in Indian society was revealed in a study by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
Funded by the UNICEF and published in the British Medical Journal, the study tried to find out how much access adolescent girls have to menstrual hygiene in India.
The study used data about 97,070 girls collected by 138 earlier studies on menstrual practices in India, between the years 2000 and 2015.
“India prides itself as a young nation, but these results show religious taboos and restrictions faced by girls are very common. None of these restrictions have any scientific backing,” said professor Sivakami from TISS’ School of Health System Studies.
Sivakami, who was a co-author of the study with researchers from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the UK, said the findings suggest scientific knowledge about mensuration among girls is inadequate. The study also found that half of all adolescent girls part of the study had no idea about menstruation when they got their first period.
Activists fighting gender discrimination said such restrictions imposed on women during their periods have become so common that they are now accepted as social norms.
“There is a mindset that women are impure especially during her periods. The most disturbing thing is women themselves believe that. I know women who don’t enter mandirs in their own homes,” said Trupti Desai, founder of the Bhumata Brigade that successfully broke the ban on entry of women into the inner sanctum of the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharasthra’s Ahmednagar.