Some women sit at home for five days a month, and development workers say that ignoring this mundane need for a product Western women take for granted is taking a toll on the health and education of Indian women.
Not as though women’s health and education weren’t already suffering, but this certainly adds another dimension. Especially when you consider that girls are dropping out of school because of menarche and a lack of proper facilities. Delhi-based NGO Goonj, and the Cheema Foundation have been working hard to adress taboos and provide women with clean cloths which have been saving lives.
“The knowledge is not there — even in city slums. Everyone considers menses dirty so people don’t discuss it. Because they don’t discuss it these things go on,” said obstetrician-gynecologist Pankaj Desai, president of the Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology Societies of India.
“Normal menstrual blood is not infected. It is not dirty. But when it gets contaminated by these dirty cloths, organisms start growing” and there is the risk of infection.
Schools do not teach sex education in conservative India and parents are often too shy to talk to their children or lack information themselves.