Stories about menstruation

Dear Pakistani women, a menstrual cup will not make you “lose your virginity”

Menstruation – the one time of the month that most girls and women dread. The number of visits to the bathroom increases, while the prospect of wearing white has never seemed more frightening. Home remedies and the odd paracetamol sound like the ideal solution; if only we weren’t preoccupied with the agony of abdominal pain that comes along with the package. Also part of the package is making sure that our bathrooms, handbags and coat pockets are well stocked with sanitary pads. However, this is a privilege only afforded to women on one side of the world. On the other ...

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The silence of the taboo: Why must I put my sanitary pads in a brown bag?

I was one of the most excited women in the newsroom when I heard Bollywood was making a movie tackling the taboo around menstruation called PadMan. As someone who detests censorship to the core, I thought perhaps now that the pad will be up on the silver screen, I will no longer be shamed for talking about periods openly, or for refusing to use the brown bag. But excitement didn’t last very long. Lo and behold! The Central Board of Film Censors banned PadMan in Pakistan. The details in the news were mind-blowing, a lot like how it feels when the uterus explodes and ...

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The #PadManBan is another example of Pakistan making the country a “comfortable” place for men, not its women

One often goes to the cinema to escape from the harsh realities of the world. The two or three hours spent at the theatre either throw us into fits of laughter, push us to the edge of our seats, or put us right to sleep if the movie is a snoozefest. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to watch a movie and encourage others to watch it too just because of its intriguing and eye-opening content. Twinkle Khanna’s movie PadMan starring Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte, is one such movie that needs our attention. The movie talks about menstrual hygiene and normalising the most natural biological function ...

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Padman: Shaping the narrative surrounding menstrual hygiene with care and ironic wit

From Airlift (2016) to Rustom (2016) and from Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (2017) to recently released biopic Padman, Akshay Kumar is portraying inspirational characters and filmgoers are loving his selection of movie subjects. His latest thought-provoking venture Padman revolves around a taboo topic – menstruation. The movie skilfully highlights basic hygiene that is necessary during menstrual cycles. Based on Twinkle Khanna’s short story The Sanitary Man of Sacred Land, Padman is about Tamil Nadu’s Padmashree winner, Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social activist who not only empowered the village women but also created inexpensive sanitary pads. The film has been appreciated all over ...

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Menstruation should be discussed without any shame, and Akshay Kumar’s heroic ‘Padman’ makes that possible

Filmmaker cum screenwriter R Balki has a reputation of covering atypical subjects in his movies, with all six of his movies, such as Cheeni Kum (2007), Paa (2009) and Shamitabh (2015), being regarded as breakthroughs that entertained both the masses as well as mature filmgoers with their peculiar themes. This year, Balki is back at it again, this time with a very unique idea in the form of Padman. As revealed by the trailer, Padman is based on the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social activist from Tamil Nadu, played by Akshay Kumar. Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte will ...

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Twines and toilet paper will not do: Sanitary supplies should be a necessity, not a luxury

I was studying at a public school and was in grade 11 when it happened. One day. I went to school without any underwear on and I got my period. Studying at one of the largest government colleges for girls in Islamabad, you would think that they would be able to help you in a situation like this. However, their ‘help’ came in the form of offering me a piece of twine and a toilet paper roll. They suggested that I fold in the toilet paper and the twine would hold it in. That was just one day of menstruation in my ...

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I am trapped in a cycle of suicidal thoughts

I am travelling back from a long day at work. I have my window pulled down. Its dark outside and the wind is blowing directly in my face. I am exhausted and mentally drained. I have no energy left to fight these battles. As the car pauses at a traffic light, my mind races by. I can’t bear this any longer. The car revs to a start and speeds onto the highway, cold wind blowing onto my face again. I can see the lights of other cars swish past me in a blurry rush. My mind slows down and ...

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Finally, an ad that does not care about what a man-child might think about menstruation

Menstruation? I know what most of you are going to say: “Oh no! Run to the door! Run to the hills!” In this ‘beautiful’ society of ours, menstruation is synonymous with shame. Women and men, alike, recoil at this ‘topic’ faster than you can say “pad”. See, anything below the waistline is taboo for us Pakistanis, but have we ever thought about the side effects of having such a mind-set? Most women feel on edge when it’s that time of the month, they feel isolated, impure, and fragile. This advert might be the only one of its kind. In our local and ...

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Why are we hiding our periods during Ramazan?

We’ve all been there, ladies. Don’t deny it. Who hasn’t taken a surreptitious look around before scoffing a bite of (insert chosen food here) while on your period in Ramazan? Lately, I’ve been wondering why on earth we do this… Why are we hiding? Clearly it’s because of the many social and medical benefits of pretending to fast while menstruating. Not to mention the frequent suggestions found in the Holy Quran and Sunnah that this is the best way to deal with the crimson wave cravings during the holy fasting month… That last paragraph was total nonsense, just an FYI. So why do we ladies – suffering with ...

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Why should a woman be shamed for being on her period?

I’ve been watching a recent debate unfold: students at a local university in Pakistan stuck sanitary napkins on the university walls with poignant quotes. As a woman, I admired the bravado of these students. Mainly because ever since we were kids, we’re told that since we are the ‘weaker/fairer’ sex, we shouldn’t: “Wear too much make-up”, “Wear a dupatta this way” “Wear such high heels”, “Don’t talk so loudly’, Oh yeah, and, “When on your period, channel your inner Jane Bond.” Maybe the men don’t get the whole psyche that’s inbuilt women from the age their periods start. The society has some sort of a state of ...

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