10 Period Myths That Must Be Broken

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When I was in college, I was hanging out with some of my classmates, and I noticed that a girl was feeling uncomfortable. I asked her openly that are you on periods and everyone's face was like they have seen an alien. The girl took me aside and asked me how you can say something like this publicly. And that's when I realize that this is how we have raised our girls. We have made them so guilty about periods that they don't want to talk about it.

The period is such a taboo subject that we are even scared of saying it aloud. So we came up with code names like lady problems. It has been around since ancient times, and we can witness in our history as well as our scriptures. You will get to see mentions like-

"Go away from women during periods because they are not clean."

"Whoever will touch her during the period will be unclean, and if you touch her, then you shall wash your clothes and take a bath."

"Contact with period blood will sour the wine. The crops will become barren. The seeds will dry up." And the list goes on...

A woman has around 500 periods in her lifetime. If we put it in an average, they go on bleeding about 3000 days in their lifetime. Taboos around periods in India is way broader. They are skipping school. They are forbidden from holy rituals. They are excluded from sports. For a few days every month, their life on hold.

Around 20 millions of girls drop out of school as soon as they start menstruating in India. And only 18% of women have access to sanitary pads in India. It is shocking to see the figures, but it is the truth.

Taboos around periods-

In India, taboos around periods are like the mother of all taboos. Some are so stupid and illogical that if you think about it, you will just laugh about it. But we have failed as a society to overcome such stupidity because we have never tried. Let's talk about the 10 taboos on periods which you will usually encounter-

  1. Celebrated yet an outcast- In some parts of south India as well northeast India, when a girl gets her first period, gets presents and are celebrated for this occasion. And still, they are barred from household works for a period of 3 nights.
  2. A menstruating woman is not allowed to enter the temple- Being born in a Hindu family, I had witnessed it month after month. When my cousin sisters were on periods, they were not allowed to be a part of any holy rituals. Now you can imagine how much shame it will bring to the girl that she will think and believe that she is not even accepted in God's house. She will hate herself for it.
  3. Nobody should touch a menstruating woman- I have heard this numerous times while growing up that I should not touch a girl or woman while she is on her period. One time I touched the hand of one of my sisters, and I was asked by my grandma to take a bath. Even I felt so enraged hearing such stupidity. I refused to do so. I got some scolding, but hey this is how you all should start in your family as well.
  4. Her touch will rot the pickle- Yes, it is as ridiculous as it sounds that if she will touch pickle during her period, it will rot. And women follow it religiously. I still can't get my head around it and aliens must be laughing about it and what a weird mental virus we have.
  5. Don't go near the Tulsi Plant- The tulsi or basil is considered holy in Hinduism and woman cannot touch it while she is on her period. Even her shadow will kill the plant.
  6. Don't wash your hair and don't tie your hair- This is again one weird and illogical taboo that women should not wash their hair while she is on her period. She has to keep her hair open. There is no trail of this that what is the reason behind it but it is still get passed on by older women to younger girls.
  7. Living in exile- In some rural parts of India and Nepal, Girl lives in a shed outside the house while she is on her period. This practice is called "Chhaupadi". Sometimes it leads to the death of some women. In the first-ever case, there has been an arrest in Nepal for such practice in the first week of December 2019.
  8. A menstruating woman should not enter the kitchen- In Indian households, a woman cannot enter the kitchen if she is on her period. This is as stupid as it sounds. The food will become bad if she will touch them. This is so discriminatory. As she should be free to do whatever she wants while she is on her period.
  9. Virgins should not use tampons- India has so much preached about the virginity of a girl. In some rural part, there is still a virginity test before marriage to see that if a girl is a virgin or not. And that has started a taboo that if you use tampons, you will lose your virginity. Scientifically it is not true at all and tampons are not associated with virginity in any way. It is so absurd and shameful that we give so much importance to virginity.
  10. Buying Sanitary pads is embarrassing- There is so much shame associated with menstruation that women, as well as men, are embarrassed to buy sanitary pads or tampons. Even medical shops give it in wrapped paper or brown or black bags. Women never ask a male member of the family to buy them pads or tampons. This is how we have built our society.

It made no sense to me while I was processing these as a child, but Now I am an adult, and I can understand that these taboos are deeply rooted in our culture. It will not go away until we, as an individual will start opposing it. I am hopeful for the younger generations that they will not pass on these stupid taboos to the next generations. And the older women are also somewhat responsible for this and if they will start speaking up about it.

I believe these taboos will go away because it needs to go away.

Feel free to drop a comment on what type of taboo around periods you have witnessed while growing up.

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The Bois Locker Room: An Instagram Chat Or A Wake-up Call?

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If you’re not already aware of what this case is all about, a group of young boys in Delhi on a private Instagram chat (screenshots of which were shared around later) called “Bois Locker Room” were seen objectifying, degrading, rating, demeaning young girls, sharing their pictures (some of this girls were only 14-15 years old) and even threatening to rape or kill them in case they got exposed. 

Screenshots of this group chat were shared across social media platforms - predominantly Instagram and Twitter, after which the school authorities of these students (the 20+ boys) requested the Delhi police to investigate the incident.

The Delhi police have so far found that some students of leading South Delhi schools created the Instagram group in the last week of March and started adding their friends. “A few members are in college. Some of the teens allegedly started sharing photos posted by schoolgirls on their Instagram accounts, and passing sexually explicit comments,” an officer said, adding that the purported chats also included threats of sexual violence.

DCP  Anyesh Roy told The Indian Express, “After we came to know, we registered an FIR under Sections 465 (forgery), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), 469 (forgery for purpose of harming reputation), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and Sections 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) and 67A (publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act in electronic form) of the IT Act. 

The case is still under investigation. But..

All the right things that could’ve gone wrong: 

First off, the boys on the group chat threatened some of the girls to rape, kill, and humiliate them if they dared to share any of this information with anyone. But the girls, being well-educated (and smart) enough to know that no such thing could actually take place if a complaint was lodged, went ahead to expose them anyways. But you see, things like this happen EVERY DAY and young girls are often a) either too ignorant to pay attention and brush off these issues as “minor” or b) scared of the empty threats that honestly have no real follow-throughs.

Second, the school authorities specifically requested the police to investigate the incident. Now again, this may not have happened in many other cases. A lot of times, any kind of vulgar behaviour, especially in schools and colleges in India, is looked upon as high risk to the reputations of these institutions so they prefer to sweep it all under a carpet

And third, social shaming. In cases like these, we bless the speed of the internet. Social media fastens the process of information spreading, and it is necessary for people to acknowledge this pro of social media platforms. But more often than not, a lot of serious issues may be lost under all that is glitter and jolly good, unicorns and rainbows - But this piece of incident DIDN’T. Imagine the number of people that want to have a voice to socially bring shame to their oppressors, but are unsuccessful. At least this one caught the eye - and the punishment of being recognized as a “so and so” in case of this incident will stick with the boys for a lifetime. 

Now, the case is under investigation, and a judgment has not yet been made. But it’s clear to the general audience that since some of the girls (whose pictures had been shared on the group chat) were underage, this is child porn. So not only are what these boys doing morally incorrect, but also illegal under IP section 292, 293. 

We hope for the best outcomes.



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What Is Herd Immunity? Everything You Need To Know

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Picture a herd or community of healthy people. An infectious virus or disease would pass easily through the community from person to person. Vaccines train our immune system to protect us from diseases it hasn’t come in contact with before. For example, the MMR vaccine provides immunity against measles, mumps, and rubella. During an outbreak of a disease, vaccinated people will remain healthy. As they won't become infected, they won't pass on the disease. Hence, if most of the community is vaccinated, it makes it difficult for the disease to actually spread to the rest of the community. This is the basis of herd immunity. 

If most people in the community are not vaccinated, herd immunity can break down, allowing the disease to spread more easily.

Herd immunity becomes especially important for the individuals in a herd who can't be vaccinated. These could be people who are either too old, too young or have weaker immune systems

Herd Immunity without Vaccination: Another way the building of herd immunity could happen is if many people contract the disease and in time build up an immune response to it (natural immunity). In this case, the herd would have to be fit enough to contract the disease, survive it and then become immune towards it. 

 It is important to note that in order for herd immunity to take action, the disease/virus must be categorized as a Contagious one. (capable of spreading)

COVID-19 and Herd Immunity In India

Renowned Immunologist and Cell Biologist Dipyaman Ganguly has said that one of the only hopes in defeating the novel coronavirus is by developing ‘herd immunity,’ 

In an interview with news9, he said, “This coronavirus is not going anywhere. Viruses don’t go anywhere. They may become weak but its strand remains. The virus will keep infecting people until a large population develops immunity against it.”

He has also stated that immunity could only be achieved through a vaccine or by getting infected by the virus. “Since developing a vaccine for COVID-19 is not an easy task and it is unlikely that we will get one soon, the only hope that remains is that of herd immunity and it is bound to happen.”

Explaining the idea of herd immunity further, he said, “The virus is going to infect a large number of populations in India. When a large number of people get infected, their bodies will develop natural immunity. They will stop the virus from spreading further by breaking the chain of infections transmitted from one person to another.” “Since I am closely monitoring the situation, I am sure that we are moving towards herd immunity,” he added. 

Studying infection trends in India, he said that most coronavirus cases will be asymptomatic. Patients will recover through natural immunity and vitamin boosting medication suggested by doctors. However, those with existing health conditions could develop severe complications as the virus is shown to aggravate symptoms. 



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