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The Burden of Silence Around Menstruation: Munni’s journey






Munni was born into a well-off family as the youngest of four siblings, lived a happy and playful childhood. 


At the age of 14, while playing, she felt something dripping between her legs. She was embarrassed, thinking she had peed. Her mind was still trying to figure out what was happening when she saw blood dripping down her legs. Confused, she rushed to the washroom. She couldn’t find any injuries on her thighs.


Ignorant of one of the most normal biological occurrences in a woman’s body, Munni started imagining various things. She stayed in the washroom, fearing that perhaps no one would talk to or accept her now. 


Munni stayed a bit longer in the washroom, hoping the blood flow would stop. Every time she thought it had stopped and tried to step outside, she bled again.  Maybe God has punished her for playing with the boys, she thought. She begged God for forgiveness! 


After some time, Munni stopped bleeding, feeling that God heard her prayer. She ran back inside her house, locked herself in a room, and sat in a corner to process all that had happened. She felt the drip again. This time she couldn't hold her tears and started crying inconsolably.


Seeing her cry, Munni’s mother and sister-in-law ran towards her. When Munni’s mother saw Munni’s blood-stained skirt, she knew what had happened. Munni’s sister-in-law burst into laughter and explained to Munni about this monthly biological condition that every woman experiences. 


Munni was given a piece of cloth, some cotton, and the burden of silence around menstruation was passed on to her. For the next seven days, Munni became a showpiece in her own house, spending her days sitting mostly in one place. Her brothers made fun of her for being lazy, but her mother didn’t bother to intervene or make them understand about menstruation.

 

Her mother’s silence had a long-lasting impact on Munni’s way of dealing with menstruation. During her menstrual years in her paternal home, instead of taking help from her mother or sister-in-law, she herself managed her menstruation by using cotton from a quilt or any piece of cloth that she thought no one would miss. For the next three years, Munni managed her menstrual blood flow in the ways she could think of.


At 17, Munni married and faced a new environment where her sister-in-law reinforced myths and taboos about menstruation. Conditioned by the silence she had grown up with, Munni followed these practices unquestioningly.


One of the reasons Munni blindly followed whatever she was told at her in-laws' house is because 'Silence around Menstruation' is what she had seen and experienced, so she presumed that that’s the way to deal with it.


‘Silence around Menstruation’ had such an impact on Munni’s life that she never talked about it, not with her husband, nor with her daughter that she gave birth to later in life. Munni's perspective changed when she joined the 'Sustainable Health Enterprise' project by Sulabh Sanitation Mission Foundation.


Munni who is now 50 years old, shared her story about carrying the burden of ‘Silence around Menstruation’ that was passed on to her by her mother when she attended the ‘Sustainable Health Enterprise’ run by Sulabh Sanitation Mission Foundation, supported by Hitachi India Pvt Limited, for making menstruation a topic to be discussed with openness.


Munni happily shared her story without any shyness and thanks the project for helping her get rid of the burden she had been carrying on for years. 


Munni ended her story saying that her real victory would be the day she would openly tell her husband that she was menstruating and not use lies such as saying that she was unwell. She hopes that the ongoing project would definitely give her that courage.


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