Its 2018 in India and last year we said goodbye to a beautiful 12-year old girl from Tamil Nadu, India who killed herself after being humiliated by her teacher for having a period stain on her uniform.
A powerful man exists because a brave woman exists. Men are slowly learning to understand the respect a woman deserves, then why? do women still have to pay taxes on buying something that is needed to keep herself clean?
Menstruation is a very taboo topic to speak on in a country like India, a menstruating woman shall not enter holy places like temples or touch certain foods or she is even sometimes treated like an untouchable for those 5 days that her body decides to bleed, every month until she decided to have a baby in which case she can worry about pregnancy for the next 9 months until she starts to bleed again. Menstruation is a bodily process that every woman experiences and has no control over. Even then a woman is expected to pay a 12% gst on sanitary napkins, in a country which has levied no taxes on items like brooms, bangles, sindoor, condoms,etc.
Menstruation is a reason why a lot of little girls drop out of school when they first start menstruating, due to lack of toilets and the fact that sanitary napkins are not affordable or easily available for all the girls in rural India. Comes along with this the stigma that is created around menstruation by the older women in our communities, a woman’s husband or brother or even father should never find out that their mother, or sister or daughter or wife is menstruating and if a woman is not careful enough to hide this fact she is shamed and is expected to feel humiliated and embarrassed. And so, the bright young girls keep themselves in their homes rather than risk losing their dignity over a little bit of blood.
A woman hiding a dirty used rag cloth was once stopped in her home and asked by her husband what she is hiding, the man received a slap and the wife asked him to mind his own business. This man was Arunachalam Muruganantham. Born in Tamil Nadu, Muruganantham realised the women around him were all drowning in a variety of diseases like fungal infections, reproductive infections and still the women could change nothing. If a household has more than one woman then they would have to cut costs in other ares just to afford sanitary pads, and so he made it his mission to make the lives of thousands of women in the rural parts of India a lot easier by inventing the first low cost sanitary pad.
watch the video above to find out how a man working in a workshop invented the low cost sanitary pad and went on to win a Padmashri.
Twinkle Khanna, an Indian author, an interior designer and a film producer, has turned Arunachalam Muruganantham’s story into a biographical drama movie ‘Pad man‘ starring her husband and actor, Akshay Kumar.
You can catch the trailer of the movie here : PADMAN Official Trailer | Akshay Kumar | Sonam Kapoor | Radhika Apte | 9th Feb 2018 – YouTube
A twitter thread was also started by Murugananthan where he tagged a few popular names from the Indian film industry challenging them to pose with sanitary pads. The objective of the challenge is to spread awareness that a sanitary pad is a normal thing, very natural and nothing to be ashamed about.
The challenge was supported and carried forward by a lot many filmstars of bollywood along with the small actors for the daily soap industry.
In days like today there is a serious need for more men and women to be feminists, the definition of feminism states that it is the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of sexes. Then why, again I shall ask are condoms, a product that should be worn to avoid pregnancy and STDs while having sex (having sex and affording condoms is a choice), tax free but at the same time sanitary pads are charged a 12% gst, a product that is a must use product for all women across the world to keep themselves clean and hygienic. let us not forget that a woman has always been the symbol of purity. Then why no equality when it comes to these things.
With Pad man releasing on the 9th of Feb 2018, let us all hope for a change in our society’s mindset towards menstruation and save our young sisters from the humiliation and embarrassment that women not only in rural but also urban areas of not only India but US, UK and many other countries have had to face until now.