Shame No More

You are a proud ambassador of Joya, the sanitary napkin. First of all, what intrigued you to be the brand ambassador of a product which still raises a lot of eyebrows?

I consider myself to be a strong woman. I have always broken stereotypes and this is why when the proposal of this brand endorsement came to me, I was like, if I don’t do it, then who will? If you look at my career graphs, one of my music videos, Pataka, which drew a lot of flak from male viewers actually was lauded by my female fan followers. I am ever so grateful to them for their heartfelt support and this is why when I was approached by Joya, I thought this would be a great opportunity to dispel the taboo around menstrual hygiene and reproductive health-related issues. Truth be told, a huge number of people in our country still consider menstruation to be a disease. This is totally unacceptable to me. A woman undergoes this natural phenomenon during her reproductive age and this is associated with her ovulation cycle. Without ovulation, a woman cannot conceive. This is why I believe when a young girl hits puberty and starts menstruating, it should be celebrated.

With media exposure, the topic of period is much talked about on various platforms. But why do you think it is still considered by many as a taboo topic?

This has been going on from generation to generation. Almost every religion suggests women maintain a certain lifestyle while they are menstruating. It’s the misogynistic interpretation of the patriarchs which dubbed this an unhygienic, impure state of a woman and henceforth was ridiculed. Women particularly those from the lower tier of the society have been using scrap clothes during their periods and while they used to dry those we know people have frowned upon that. So I think misogyny coupled with the lack of education and awareness about sexual and reproductive health played a big role in turning this topic into a taboo. And in today’s world, thanks to social media infested with hatemongers, such taboo topics are gaining momentum in the wrong direction. This is why we need to talk about it to disciple the darkness around it.

What kind of support have you been receiving from your family in regards to this?

I would not hesitate to admit that during the early stage of my career for 2-3 years, I had been eating a lot of junk food and that had affected my menstrual health severely. Eventually, when I got to learn more about the adverse effects of those diets, I opted for a healthy lifestyle. Right now I am enjoying my wellness. Besides my own initiatives to feel better, I think my family and my partner and his family’s support also encouraged me to work hard to ensure my wellbeing.

Since social media is the platform where we see plenty of negative comments about this topic. How do you think we can stop it from happening?

We must keep talking about the sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) of a woman. Well, we cannot stop negative comments so it’s better to ignore them. I think iconic women from our society should also join the dialogue. This kind of engagement will help a lot of urban women in two ways; first, they will be able to overcome their discomfort around this topic. Secondly, they will feel the importance to educate themselves about menstrual hygiene and their gynaecological problems. I know many women who suffered long just because they didn’t know who to talk to about it. And for the rural women or those who live at the grass-root level, both national and international organisations working for women’s wellbeing should organise fun campaigns, which are engaging in nature. Certain campaigns can totally be designed keeping parents in mind. I believe in a family where both the parents are well-aware of the importance of their daughter’s menstrual health, the daughter will not feel left alone in times of her difficulties.

What would be your advice to the young girls of our country?

To all my young followers who are soon going to hit puberty, my advice will be not to be afraid of this phenomenon. This is a natural thing and every woman goes through this. Families should come forward to celebrate this. They should educate their male and female children alike that this is not a taboo or disease. Only that way, we can hugely contribute to building a better society where women are not mocked at or frowned upon for having periods.