Period discrimination: An existing, ugly phenomenon in the Indian culture


A friend once casually mentioned how her back hurt because she slept on the floor all night. When I asked why she said that she was on her period and wasn’t allowed to sleep in bed. 


If you are shocked reading this, then welcome to the tell-all about the ugly phenomenon of period discrimination in India that is still relevant and thriving in the 21st century. The taboo and shame associated with menstruation is so widely prevalent that even shopkeepers wrap sanitary pad packages with a newspaper to conceal the identity. What is the necessity of this and where did the practice come from? For ages women menstruating were considered impure as the discharge of blood from the vagina was synonymous with dirt and disgust and was not looked at as a mere human biological process. 


A lot of the stigma stems from the lack of awareness and sex education primarily for both boys and girls right from their adolscence. It was always dealt as a topic to be hushed about and casually referred to as ‘girls issues’ and not to involve the men of the house. Over the years, this led to women themselves believing menstruating was impure and felt ashamed and guilty to talk about it! Like as if the existing gender inequality in the country was not enough, the conservative society imposes upon its women unfair and unscientific bias for an extremely normal, natural, and biological process of the human body. 


My mother does not allow me to enter the prayer room when I’m on my periods. My sister is not allowed to enter the kitchen when on her periods, because apparently, the impurity from a menstruating woman’s body can spoil the food. My friend uses a separate plate to eat food during her periods, separate sheets to sleep on the floor because god forbid they mix with the other family members’ utensils and clothes. It is the greatest sin committed by humanity. The list goes on. As ridiculous as these practices sound, there is not a single woman raised in a typical Indian society who will not have a story like this to tell (of course there are exceptions, lucky them)


Most of the time girls are raised by incorporating these myths and superstitions in the guise of ‘good culture’. Right from the time of menarche when the girl herself is insecure about her bodily changes, misinformation is fed to her by associating her bleeding with impurity and as a phenomenon to be hushed about. This instigates the guilt and shame that most women would have felt as teenagers during their periods. Some probably still do. 


We call ourselves woke and voice out racial, caste, and religious discrimination on various platforms. But how about we start from home and change simple things for the women at our homes? If your mum asks you to sit separately during your periods - resist! Dance around the kitchen, cook the food you want to, sleep on your comfy little bed, and break the small barriers! Own your periods ladies.

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