What is life like when your period means you are shunned by society? by Rose George, WaterAid Blog, July 2014 |
Journalist Rose George reports on her visit to WaterAid Nepal, where she saw the impact of menstrual taboos on women and girls.
Excerpts – For Radha dinner is served at 7. She crouches down behind a shed, a good distance from her house, then waits.
She knows what the menu will be: boiled rice, the same as yesterday and the day before. She knows that it will be her little sister who serves it, throwing the rice onto her plate from a height, the way you would feed a dog.
In Jamu, Radha’s village in western Nepal, her status is lower than a dog’s, because she is menstruating.
She is only 16, yet, for the length of her period, Radha can’t enter her house or eat anything but boiled rice. She can’t touch other women – not even her grandmother or sister – because her touch will pollute them. If she touches a man or a boy, he will start shivering and sicken.
If she eats butter or buffalo milk, the buffalo will sicken too and stop milking. If she enters a temple or worships at all, her gods will be furious and take their revenge, by sending snakes or some other calamity.
Here, menstruation is dirty, and a menstruating girl is a powerful, polluting thing. A thing to be feared and shunned.