“Ever since I was a child, society has been asking me not to ‘sit like that’ & to ‘behave like a girl’ which became ‘don’t enter the temple’ when I started menstruating.
Because I’d been hearing this since I was a kid, I believed it. I wouldn’t enter the temple on my period & wrapped my pads in a bag from the pharmacy.
But as I grew older & read about Malala & Michelle Obama, I gained perspective. I realised that I’d been conditioned. If me, a girl who was from a privileged background was victim to a stigma attached to menstruation, what would the struggle of girls from other segments of society be?
So I spoke to my friends, researched & came across The Period Society, a cause dedicated to breaking the ‘Period Stigma’.
I began volunteering & over time led The Period Society’s Mumbai chapter.
We started going to slums, holding sensitization meetings & distributing menstrual supplies. But we were all teenage girls–often, we weren’t taken seriously.
Once, a group of older women who used cloth, asked us not to waste their time. Another time, during a discussion with sex workers, when we suggested they use pads, they laughed at us.
Often our efforts seemed futile, but when I saw a little girl there, smiling at us, I knew we had to go on…for her & the other girls of our country.
And after 5 sensitization meetings, we’d donated 3800 pads & 50 women started using them regularly! That’s been my biggest victory.
So even during the lockdown, I did as much as I could. I reached out to maids & housekeeping staff in my society. When I urged them to move to pads, a lady, whose husband was suffering from cancer, said something that moved me– ‘aapke liye zarurat hai, humare liye luxury hai.’
I realised, I didn’t need to step out to make an impact– I held a pad donation drive in my society. The same lady looked at me gratefully & said, ‘thank you, ma’am.’
I’m ready to do what it takes to end the stigma. I want to see a day where every girl in India has access to menstrual supply without it being a ‘luxury’, where they can attend Durga Pooja, while bleeding, where they truly believe that it’s the most natural life process. We bleed & we are beautiful. Period.”
This is the story of Anisha. This article is brought to you by Humans of Bombay