In a highly condemnable incident, 68 girls belonging to Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute in Gujarat’s Bhuj were forced to strip and prove they weren’t menstruating. They were put through this ordeal after a used sanitary pad was found in the hostel garden. The institute’s authorities apparently wanted to identify the ‘culprit’ and had lined up the girls in a toilet. Shockingly, girls having their periods are allegedly required to sign a register in the hostel and stay in a dark and dirty basement for four days. The principal of the college and three other employees have been booked in connection with the case.
It’s incredible that an education institute would resort to such despicable practices. The college claims to provide world class education to girl students based on advances in science and technology. Yet, its attitude towards girls having their periods is downright regressive. In fact, the institute is reinforcing taboos and myths associated with menstruation. And in doing so it is harming the development and well-being of the young girls. Considering girls and women on periods – a perfectly natural process – as unclean is an old patriarchal stigma. It’s a tool by which a male-dominated society treats women as inferior.
Even the colloquial slangs used for periods such as ‘women’s problem’ and ‘mad cow disease’ have negative connotations. And by extension, women are seen as incapable of high-order responsibilities and performance because they are menstruating a certain number of days in a month. Needless to say this is rubbish and analogous to women being denied career advancement because they decide to become mothers. Such patriarchal prejudices need to be fought tooth and nail for the sake of gender equality and women’s empowerment. At the very least, educational institutions should not be perpetuating these prejudices. The Bhuj college authorities need to be taken to task to set an example.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.