While in Urban areas, the situation and understanding of the society is improving while in the rural areas that mindset is still quiet prevalent.
Women in many remote parts of the mountain state are virtually ex-communicated when they are menstruating. They are forced to sleep outside the house, in cattle-like sheds known as menstruation sheds. The reason: A woman is considered “unclean” when she’s bleeding or in a post-natal state. Women are sometimes even not allowed to enter their own kitchens.
The so-called “unclean” women, during their periods and after childbirth, are barred from touching cattle or men and they are even denied access to toilets, walking miles from their villages daily to take a bath, when while menstruating it is extremely essential to maintain your hygiene.
Taking up steps to fight this social stigma, the administration in Kullu district has set up a task force comprising reproductive health workers to conduct sensitisation programmes at the grassroots.
“We have identified 92 out of the 204 panchayats where the problem is still prevalent,” Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus Khan, the brain behind the launch of a ‘Naari Samman’ or ‘Respect Women’ campaign, say media reports.
The one-year campaign was launched on January 1 and aims reach out to all the 92 “problem” villages within six months. Fanning out for the campaign is a backbreaking task in the mountains. Many of the villages in the district are located in the interiors where “anganwadi” workers and Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) have to trudge miles across rugged, cold and inhospitable terrain of the trans-Himalayas. Officials involved in the campaign say the staff has to traverse distances ranging from 10 to 25 km on foot, or sometimes on horseback, from the road-head to reach some of the villages.
“After educating the womenfolk that, like defecation, menstruation is also a natural process and that menstrual blood is not poison, the discrimination has been somehow ended in many areas of Solan, Sirmaur, Bilaspur and Una districts,” Mendhapurkar said.
“No legislation can change the mindset, it’s only education that can bring an end to this social practice and help change attitudes,” he added.
The practice of isolating women during their monthly bleed is now illegal in Nepal — where it was once widely prevalent. Under the law, there is provision of a three-month jail sentence or a Rs 3,000 fine, or both, for anyone forcing a woman to follow the custom.
Same needs to happen all around the world, as when the law becomes strict that is when people start to take things seriously.