This teenager talks away the menstrual misconception
Even as many are ready to use sanitary napkins, but the high prices keep them away from it.
Three words, “Mein Napaak Hoon (I am Impure)” used to echo in the minds of women and girls of Kuwarpur Baghel village of Hardoi during periods.
It’s not so now, as 16-year-old Shikoh Zaidi has dared to break the silence on menstruation and puberty and talk about it.
“Since my childhood, I have seen women in my village facing this trauma. Women are considered impure and treated badly during their menstruation period,” she said.
A class 12 student in VidyaGyan Leadership Academy, Sitapur, Zaidi said her mother was reluctant but her father Mohd Muslim Zaidi supported the cause to make people of her village aware about menstrual hygiene.
“I was in school when I gained puberty two years back. I was in a hostel. Since I was aware of it I handled it with easily,” she said, adding, “Then I realized, we have made a mountain out of menstruation.”
Third of seven sisters, Zaidi said, “But a thought came to my mind when I recalled my village days, where women and girls faced a lot due to this natural cycle. That was a point when I decided to do something to deal with this stigma to break the silence.”
After winning over the reluctance of her mother, the civil service aspirant knocked at the doors of her neighbours in the village, about 150 km from Lucknow. Though being a Muslim girl, reaching out to others was a big task but she spent her last summer vacation in talking to people about menstrual hygiene.
“There were different responses to my call. Many were shocked at what I was talking about while some offered deaf ears,” she said, adding, “Still I managed to convince several girls and women while my father arranged a projector to show three educational videos to them.”
“This is still a women’s issue and we are taught not talk about it. But we have to talk about it as the issue is related to our health. I wanted to convey this message and I succeeded as many of them have started asking questions about menstrual hygiene,” she said, adding, “I have seen girls in my village staying away from school during periods and gradually dropping out because of menstruation.”
‘SANITARY NAPKINS NOT AVAILABLE’
Even as many are ready to use sanitary napkins, but the high prices keep them away from it. I was told to approach Asha workers. “She asked me to write to the higher authorities as low cost/ free sanitary napkins are only available in block level hospital. I will write to the authorities concerned,” Zaidi said.