I am angry.
Rather, I was angry. I’ve sort of calmed down since then, and decided to be less angry and more calm and composed, and do something about what was making me angry. And so, I decided to take up what was bothering me on the massive platform that is this blog, with all of its twenty three followers. And twenty visitors on a good day.
Here’s my problem:
People have an issue with women menstruating in India. At least, it’s very visible and open in India. It happens outside India too, this stigma, but especially here, among Hindus, it’s a kind of bordering on stupidity. It makes me angry. Very angry. I had heard and read about this. That women are not allowed entry into temples when they are on their period. That they are not allowed to enter the kitchen on their period, and they have to eat separately and not directly touch any other people because that may defile them.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
According to this stupid rule, a woman, whose domain, according to the scriptures, is the kitchen and household in general, is not allowed to go into the kitchen, or into the thakur-ghor (a room for the gods, a mini temple room. Most Hindu households have at least a cabinet or shelf of images and idols, if not a room). She is to be ostracised and treated like a pariah for the simple reason that she is a woman and can bear children.
Recently, a Goods and Services Tax was introduced by the Hindu leaning BJP led government across all of India. What this tax aims to do is replace all the various taxes and cesses levied by the central and state level governments by one single tax, making the general functioning of markets easier and so on. This tax levies a 12% tax on all menstrual sanitary products and makes sindoor and bangles tax exempt. Sindoor is a red pigment that married women wear on their forehead. Both sindoor and bangles are considered symbols of a happy and auspicious marriage. The irony isn’t lost, I hope.
Feminism, circa the stone age.
And before you shake your head, remember that this is the same government that, to further the Hindu devotion for cows, illegalised the purchase of cows for slaughter a few days ago. That’s another thing I am angry about, I do love a good steak. And they just made it harder to get one.
https://goo.gl/mOE1xc This is what triggered me, and made me angry enough to write about this. A couple of these stories are heartbreaking.
And a lot of you all can immediately go, “Well, this doesn’t happen in my family” (I hope to god you can). Neither does it in mine, as far as I know. At least, I was never told to not touch someone, not for these reasons anyway. But there are people I know, who have to face this. And it is really sad, that in educated households, women are treated like this. Even in the educated and urban parts. Chew on that for a moment.
And to the guys reading, it may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Think about it this way, you’re being punished for something perfectly normal and natural. Let’s say people treat you like you’ve got some deadly disease cause you breathe. Makes no sense? I know. You need to breathe to stay alive. It’s a bodily function. Right? Everyone does it. Right? Yeah, right. Same here. Every woman has periods. YOU EXIST BECAUSE YOUR MUM HAD PERIODS. And yet, we treat women like this.
There is no way this kind of behaviour is acceptable, but it’s a special kind of wrongdoing when children are brought into this. Poor girl, she is hurting, she is confused and scared, she isn’t used to this.The pain and discomfort isn’t enough, humiliation needs to be added to the mix. And so, on top of that, she’s isolated from everyone else, because she might pollute the others. She might induce menstruation in the girls who haven’t yet started. Science at its finest. She is not at all comfortable with the fact that she is bleeding, and the teacher announces it to the entire classroom, that the girl is to be avoided. That she is impure. Imagine, if you can, what that girl is thinking. And if she is unlucky, she has to go home to the same treatment. Her siblings cannot play with her. She’s made to sleep separately, and her food is put out on separate plates, in one corner of the room. Anyone who touches her must wash themselves. From childhood up, girls are indoctrinated with the idea that they are impure and foul when they have their period. If that isn’t pathetic, I don’t know what is.
For someone who hasn’t faced this, imagine someone made to feel they are unclean, being left out of everything because of something they biological. Now imagine how they would feel about this if they were made to feel so by their own family. They didn’t ask to have periods. No woman likes to put up with this, but they have to. This is probably the time when a woman feels most vulnerable and has all sorts of aches and cramps going on, and instead of offering care and compassion, the custom is make her feel like she’s committed some filthy sin.
I don’t know, what I want out of this. There’s not going to be any sweeping social change among India’s masses thanks to one post in an obscure blog by a college student. Heck, I’m not even angry anymore, just sad. It feels bad to know that I won’t be able to exorcise this devil. The best I can do is rant. And that’s it.