If we talk of menstruation, India has a long battle to fight. From discrimination against menstruating women to the disposal of soiled sanitary pads, there is a long list of challenges.
However, a lot of brands today are introducing period products that are not just environment friendly but have also managed to start a conversation around menstruation. One such brand is Carmesi.
A wellness brand offering sustainable and all-natural products, Carmesi aims to change people's mindset about menstrual health. We had a special live interaction with the founder of Carmesi, Tanvi Jorhri. If you missed the live session, you can watch it on HerZindagi's Instagram handle.
Meanwhile, here we have some excerpts from the conversation.
On Sanitary Pad Disposal
Sanitary pad disposal is a big challenge in India. One because most women don't know how to do it right and two that many have access to biodegradable sanitary napkins. Tanvi Johri said, "We do not have the understanding and basic knowledge about how to dispose of sanitary napkins. When you throw your sanitary napkin in a newspaper or packet that doesn't have a seal and it goes through the whole process of waste management, those pads are found by waste pickers in an open state."
"Workers segregating the waste at ground level are then exposed to period waste, which puts them at the risk of getting exposed to infections, harmful bacteria that comes out of blood when one bleeds during a period."
A lot of brands today are offering sanitary napkins in disposal bags to ensure safe disposal of the soiled napkins. However, not everyone has access to it. We still have a long way to go.
The Negative Approach Towards Periods
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When we talk of periods, which is a biological process, most of us have a very negative approach. Tanvi Johri said, "We are not talking about periods even though it is a natural process. We shy away from the conversation because we feel women are impure."
"I have seen a lot of women who go through terrible period pain but they make excuses like headache, cold. Thats' because we haven't been taught to talk about it."
"Most Indian families don't discuss periods openly and that is one reason why most women-related health issues go undetected. For instance, PCOS is one of the most common issues women face but unfortunately, no woman talks about it," she added.
Period Stain Shaming
There is a shame attached to period stains and we have all been there. Talking about the same, Carmesi founder said, "We have all grown up with stories where we had an incident in school where there was a stain at the back of our skirt and we felt so traumatised that it has kind of dictated our period experience after that. A stain is not a good thing to have, of course, you wouldn't want a food stain on your clothes, we want things clean but the shame attached to period stain is the problem."
PMS Being Used As A Sexist Stereotype
Though PMS is a real thing, it is largely used against us women as a sexist stereotype. She said, "It is lack of education. I wouldn't blame just everyone who thinks like that because there is not enough awareness about PMS. A lot of women still think that PMS is a myth. If women themselves do not know if it is real then how can we expect other people to understand what women are really going through. "
"Both men and women should be taught that PMS is very real and what are the reasons leading to it. Also, that PMS is not just restricted to mood swings, it also has breast tenderness, cramps associated with it among other symptoms," she added.
Should Women Be Entitled To Period Leaves?
Period leave is not the solution. The solution is that the organisations need to acknowledge that women have special needs when it comes to periods.
Feminism is not about believing that men and women are the same. They are not, they are equal. Just giving a period leave is not enough. Organisations need to be built in a way where there is a proper supply of pads, resting rooms, and education for all the employees in the organisation about periods and their challenges.
It is 2021 but we continue to talk about periods in hushed voices. Tanvi Johri said, "It is important that we very intuitively think about why we need to lower our voices while talking about periods. Even when one is being a helping hand, giving someone a sanitary napkin, why should it be done so discreetly? All these things are very behaviourally fed and we together need to change it. "
"The colour of your period blood, the amount of your period blood, and the regularity of your period blood have a lot to say about whether you are eating right, if you are living the right lifestyle, what you need to change," she added.
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