Menstrual Hygiene: Not a ‘Lady’s Problem’!

  • February 23, 2023
  • Jennifer Moore
Menstrual Hygiene: Not a ‘Lady’s Problem’!

Malti in Sunderbans spends a week in a blood-soaked cloth surviving on puffed rice

What do you usually do on the first day of your period? A day off maybe? Netflix and chill? A hot pad and cravings? Malti in Sunderbans spends a week in a blood-soaked cloth surviving on puffed rice, amidst hundreds of flood victims, where toilets are ankle-deep in saline water. On top of that she battles severe cramps and infection and stays silent about it. Menstrual hygiene is not a part of Malti’s reality. Here is her story.

In a world that tags menstrual hygiene as a woman’s issue, socio-economically challenged Sunderbans are in dire need of attention. The apparent ‘weaker vessels’ in 24-Pargana areas of Bengal face a ‘hard life’ amidst poor sanitary scenarios from a tender age. Through our initiative to tackle world hunger, team PayBitoPro stumbled upon deeper issues of menstrual hygiene on our latest visit to Basanti and Gosaba areas for the “Brokering World Hunger Campaign”. From limited occupational choices to natural perils at every corner, bridging the gap between rudimentary necessities and the ground reality is difficult for the children of this area. Here are some revelations on why menstrual hygiene is a human concern instead of a ‘lady’s problem’.

The Girl Child Bear The Burns of Mother Nature

Girl Child

The most affected by the poor knowledge about menstrual hygiene are girls. While none of the young girls consented to reveal their identity they opened up about the poor menstrual hygiene conditions to the female volunteers of the campaign. Naming one of them Malti for ease of understanding, her story of horrible sanitary conditions leading to tragic endings will melt hearts of stone. Twelve-year-old Malti who is now fifteen is aided by the Champa Mahila Ashram was a mere teenager during the Amphan catastrophe in Bengal amidst the peak of the pandemic. Flood water had engulfed her entire village while teenage Malti and her family were moved to an overcrowded safe home by the government. 

“We dread the warning siren calls! Gather a few documents and rush to the shelter at least twice a year.”, informed Malti.

Flood-affected Sunderbans are always making headlines, and post-pandemic conditions have worsened the situation. Alongside lack of amenities like clean water, sanitary napkins, staple dietary requirements, or sanitation the sinister shroud of taboo around menstruation is the main culprit. Remote areas have some public toilets constructed but with no facilities inside, most do not even have doors. Malti and her family store puffed rice in gunny bags, and a few files carrying important documents. These are the only things they manage to take to the shelters after siren calls, which usually catch them off-guard. 

“Please do not tell my mother I uttered these words about periods!”Malti begged.

Malati was deeply worried that her mother would punish her or take her out of the ashram if she spoke too much about her kidney problems caused by menstrual hygiene issues. The innate nature of self-effacement about menstruation in women leads to severe health issues such as,

  •  Anemia
  •  Vaginal infections
  •  Urinary Tract Infections
  •  Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Miscarriages
  •  Cervical cancer
  • Kidney related issues

“We do not tell men even if we are in pain.”, Malti shuddered on enquiring why she did not ask for help.

Men take an evasive stance on the mere idea of menstruation and naturally turn a blind eye with an average monthly income of Rs. 3000/- ($36) which does not suffice for other major survival issues. Women on the other hand are brought up to be ashamed of a natural bodily function. Sanitary napkins or other necessities do not have enough supply in these areas. Lack of awareness, superstitions, and taboos take over rationality. Community elders usually deprecate women and children from even participating in events organized on menstrual hygiene awareness by the government or welfare associations. Yet the “Brokering World Hunger Away Campaign” is trying to change the mindset to improve menstrual hygiene awareness at the root level to help girls like Malti.

Misery, Malnutrition, and Menstruation

None of the three majorly practiced occupations in this ecologically challenged area (agriculture, honey collection, and fishing) have sedentary methods, and women get no exception. Lack of food on top of this further complicates the problem.

Dietary supplements during menstruation, especially in young girls, are extremely crucial. Loss of blood during menstruation weakens the body to a great extent. Adequate rest and food are mandatory during this phase alongside menstrual hygiene as malnutrition alongside poor hygiene can cause major distress. 

Gender inequality is no new foe in the patriarchal society, hence menstrual dietary requirements are the least of the concerns in economically backward communities. Therefore, higher dropout rates mean even the basic mid-day meal is now unavailable to children, leadMost of these are absent in diet charts even in urban societies, naturally rural areas like Basanti and Gosaba have a much dire situation. ing to the swift manifestation of all kinds of diseases, while anemia is leading the list.  

Menstruating girls should have a high amount of 

  •  Iron
  • Vitamin c
  •  Protein 

“I used the same blood-drenched cloth for a week!”, says Malti. Such is the menstrual hygiene of Sunderbans.

Unfortunately, Malti was menstruating at that time and the lack of basic food, drinking water, clean toilets, wet clothes, and no sanitary napkins gave her a severe urinary tract infection. Due to the grave calamity, it took a very long time for situations to normalize which led to high fever and lower abdominal pain for Malti and severe irritability in urination. All sanitary facilities were ankle-deep in saline water. Malti and her peers had no access to basic dry toilets. 

Surprisingly, this entire time situation was never favorable for young Malti to ask for any medical help on the matter, her temperature was occasionally dealt with fever medicines not addressing the cause. Telling a male healthcare provider about menstruation was forbidden. To this date, Malti is suffering from kidney issues due to that traumatic phase. She never had the space to open up about this tragic ordeal with anyone. This is because it is a ‘Lady’s Problem’.

PayBitoPro Battling the Taboo Around Menstruation

Girl Menstruation Problem

PayBitoPro a crypto exchange in the US, has come up with a sustainable development project called, “Brokering World Hunger Away Campaign”. Thereafter, to battle hunger and malnutrition problems globally. Their latest venture into the 24-Parganas, Basanti, and Gosaba areas unraveled gruesome facts about poor menstrual hygiene in these areas.

 Numerous girls like Malti still use unclean, rough clothes instead of sanitary pads. Thereafter, they do not even have the bare minimum comfort to dry in the fresh air. Some suffer from a lack of food during the tough days. Thereafter, how unsanitary school toilets contribute to the eventual school dropout. 

How is PayBitoPro making a change?

PayBitoPro is already researching avenues to launch a menstrual awareness campaign alongside the  “Brokering World Hunger Away Campaign”. The company is considering setting up menstrual awareness camps and distributing sanitary products to promote menstrual hygiene in these areas. New paths to encourage institutional investors and brokers to swiftly sail into their business endeavors. Thereafter, with facilities of instant exchange among 400+ crypto markets, 20+ fiat currencies, and numerous assets.

As much as a broker earns through the platform PayBitoPro vouches to spend on appropriate dietary supplements for children. The organization sincerely hopes to eradicate malnutrition and raise a healthy generation. Children like Malti are given nutritious food and basic hygiene products. While doing that special attention to the social taboo around menstruation. A basic natural physiological phenomenon that should not be a mere “Lady’s problem.”

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