Signary Desk Report
Let’s Talk Period is a campaign initiated by the social entrepreneurial organisation, Resurgence, which works selflessly to ensure menstrual hygiene by breaking the taboo around menstruation. The top five responses, narrating experiences of people while being introduced to the word “period” are shared below.
For Raisa Islam, her first-hand experience was no less than a nightmare. The pain was unbearable, and as a 10-year-old, she was only warned about ensuring that no one found out about it, especially the boys of her class. “I remember running back and forth to the washroom between the class breaks that day, trying to figure out how to fold and stuff toilet paper to prevent any stain and remain calm at the same time,” she recalls.
Later that day, her mom taught her how to use a sanitary pad and reminded her how she was no longer just a “little girl”. “Apparently, my period signified that I was now a “grown woman” who needed to be more aware of her interaction with her 10-year-old male friends at school,” she further said.
Shahzor Khaled Hossain was always curious about why girls were allowed to leave classes early and why teachers skipped teaching female anatomy. While he was a kid, he often noticed girls being excused to use the school sick-room. “The school never dared discuss these things with the students; we never had a health class. Even in biology, the teacher skipped the reproduction chapter just because it was ‘too mature’ for us,” he said.
After learning about the female anatomy, he was more interested in learning about how it actually worked and how they could help their female friends by understanding how it affects their mental state during that time of the month. “I was so surprised to find out they had to, in general, deal with this every single month. I honestly don’t know how you do it, girls. You’re awesome!” he added.
Mashiur Rahman flips through the past and remembers how he was introduced to menstruation. While growing up in Motijheel Colony back in the early 70s, their neighbourhood was surrounded by mango trees, playgrounds, and happy faces. Sometimes in the afternoons, when he along with his friends went down to play football, they would notice weird little white things falling from the sky. They used to think those were used shin-guards, as some of his friends questioned whether they should wear them around their legs or not. “Sounds strange and gross now, but that was just how clueless and innocent we were. It was years later when I realised that those were sanitary napkins that had been disposed off windows and verandas by local residents,” he reveals.
Tajrian Binte Zaman also takes a trip down the memory lane, as she reviews her experiences with the term over the years.
In 2004-2005, two years after she got her period, she thought she could talk about it with her classmates. Little did she know that one of them would call her a kharap meye, because this wasn’t something to be discussed, even among girls. She was schooled in the USA for quite some time, and realised it wasn’t just our country that had the taboo.
Fast forward to 2016, she was having severe period cramps and wrote about it on her personal Facebook account, discussing how it hampers her daily routine. The next day on her radio show, she received a text from a random number saying how she should be ashamed for writing about menstruation like that.
“I was asked to keep shush, because it’s something that every woman goes through, and thus it was not a big deal. The text itself was so contradictory that I laughed,” she said.
Lastly, Resurgence’s founder, Naziba Naila Wafa, shares her experience with periods. “Belonging to an all-girls’ school and considering how it was a female-centric school, we can easily assume how normal it would be to talk regarding matters such as female hygiene or menstruation openly and easily. Yet, during our ‘Home Economics’ lessons when we came across the chapter ‘Menstruation and Female Hygiene’, our teacher, who was a female herself, not only subtly skipped the chapter, but also asked us to read it by ourselves when we go home.”
She further added that if they had any queries or confusions, they should ask their respective mothers. “This just goes out to show how stigmatised the whole topic of menstruation is — the fact that even a female teacher would feel discomfort and be hesitant to talk about it in a room full of adolescent girls, makes it prominent how imperative it is to breach the topic,” she states.