There are parts of this country that are yet to acknowledge that menstruation is a natural phenomenon. Despite the efforts of the medical community and social activists, some communities continue to treat menstruating women as impure beings or fear that they may bring bad luck.
These superstitions, steeped in the dominant patriarchal discourse, result in restricting a woman’s freedom of movement or engage in certain activities.
With the dawn of the New Year, the Kullu district administration in Himachal Pradesh began a year-long initiative to stomp out the practice of confining women to cattle sheds during their periods, reported the Hindustan Times.
The initiative, called Naari Samman (women’s pride) seeks to raise awareness and shatter the social taboos associated with menstruation. “Women’s Pride is an initiative to remove menses-related misconceptions from the minds of people,” said Kullu deputy commissioner Yunus Khan.
In certain remote parts of the district, women are sent out of their homes every month during their periods. A survey conducted by the Kullu district administration discovered that a little over 90 of the 204 panchayats in the district confine women to cattle sheds during their menstruation.
“The villagers appear to have borrowed from a practice called chaupadi in Nepal wherein women are relegated to cattle-sheds to keep ‘impurity’ out of the home,” Khan said. Last August, however, the Nepal parliament passed a law banishing this practice.
For the campaign, the district administration will reportedly rope-in local Anganwadi and health workers, besides local theatre artists and folk groups. In a state with many places of worship, even temple committees and religious committees will help the local administration in spreading awareness.
Read also: Why Menstruation Isn’t Only a Women’s Issue
This is significant because women on their periods are specifically excluded from certain religious rituals because superstition deems them to be impure.
In fact, local women can even call up a local helpline—01902-222105—to acquire information about this campaign, besides receiving free counselling. The helpline can also help local women in setting up appointments with doctors and psychiatrists.