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Nigar Yusuf
8 Mar 2019 . 1 min read

Can The Victory Of Period. End Of Sentence At Oscars Wash Away Period Stigma In India?


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period end of sentence period end of sentence

Directed by Iranian-American director Rayeka Zetabchi, the short film, Period. End of Sentence is set in India. This documentary created by the students of Oakwood school, Los Angeles tries to explore the shame, stigma and pain of menstruating women.

It is an irony that the movie that talks about the biggest taboo of India has brought all the glory to India by bagging the prestigious Oscars in the short films category this year.

Though the movie is helmed around a startup story of sanitary napkins it eventually ends up capturing the mindset of people regarding menstrual cycle.

The documentary takes an up-close look at Arunachalam Muruganatham, the Padman from Tamil Nadu and his team of amazing women workers. In the documentary, Arunachalam makes a strong statement by saying that, the period is the biggest taboo in India.

He brings a set of rural women under his wings and teaches them how to make low-cost sanitary napkins. The grit and the determination of these woman from rural India is something to watch out for. These women are not waving sanitary napkins to the camera to bring a change. They can simply not afford to do that lest they want to be shamed.

What they are doing, is much cooler. From manufacturing affordable pads to marketing to door delivery, they are doing it all. In a country where we like to keep this discussion under wraps, these industrious women have carved out both a business opportunity and an awareness drive out of this situation.

Taking this step was not easy, says Sneha, the protagonist from Hapur who wants to join Delhi Police and laughs at her own audacity. Though there is a sound of vulnerability in her laughter she is still preparing herself to be branded outrageous.

Ignorance Is Not A Bliss When It Comes To Menstrual Health. Arunachalam lashes out on the Indian society when he says, a  father doesn't speak to daughter, mother shies away from her son, sister hides it from brother.

When you hear this you are like-What crap! What is he trying to convey???

We hide our sanitary napkins in places where even we are not able to find it at times, we hide them as if they are the darkest secrets of our life and he wants us to go and have a talk with everyone about it. Shameless!

Even the thought of facing this situation ever, makes most of us go weak in our knees. Phew!!  It takes a lot of courage to go and buy a sanitary napkin for many women, especially in small towns and two-tier cities. And when they finally pull up their socks to do so, the man sitting at the counter reacts in a way as if you have just asked for his kidneys.

In a country where buying sanitary pads in itself is a daunting task, how can one expect to bring such a drastic change? This is where Shabana comes into picture who goes door to door to sell these sanitary napkins in the villages of north India. She talks about bringing a change in people's attitude.

period padselling women

Shabana is optimistic when she says that “Abhi toh bas shuruaat hai, dheere dheere soch mein badlav aayega.”

But what is it like to get an impromptu period in a public place?

OMG! People start elbowing each other which further grows into a loop of Chinese whispers. This reminds me of a beautiful story I had read somewhere where a schoolboy gives his jacket to her classmate to cover her stains and tells her not to fret as it was a normal thing to happen. The girl was surprised to know that it was his mother who had taught him to respect the difference between men and women and asked him not to be a mute spectator or laugh at people in such situations.

Some steps in the right direction to build a period- friendly society for women.

  • Can we come up with sanitary pad dispensers at public places and offices just like ATMs if looking at blood stains takes away all our holiness?
  • Can we inform the young girls about the perils of using unhygienic and infected cloth pads to save them from acute infections?
  • Can we tell our daughters and sons that we women bleed a little every month and it is absolutely healthy to do so? It can be the first step in erasing the stigma.
  • Can schools and other educational institutions introspect and understand why girls dropout from the schools early every year and make amendments to give them a period-friendly ecosystem.

Strength Lies With Women As we analyze things on a wider perspective we start understanding why Arunachalam wants a dialogue on periods. If we want solutions brushing things under the carpet won't help us at all.

He reinforces the fact that women are the epitome of strength and glorifies them all the more by calling women the strongest of all the creatures in the world.

The movie succeeds in making its point by bringing in some real and path-breaking women characters as harbingers of change. It wraps up with a hopeful note of women opening up on this real-time issue by taking cudgels against the unendurable.


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Nigar Yusuf
A mom to two lovely daughters who takes life as it comes. An experimental soul who nurtures ideas which are sometimes sensible, sometimes insane. She has co-edited the Sheroes Digital Magazine. She is associated with Sheroes as a Consultant moderator. Has won accolades and prizes for her poetry and content on Sheroes. May I Bug You? is her blog where she is constantly exploring ideas to give irresistible reading goals to her followers. With the anthology "The Mindful Thought" she marked her debut into the world of writing and right now she is basking in the glory of her short story "The Comeback" featured in this book.

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Responses

  • B*****
    That's so interesting and insightful..not just India in fact the taboo exists in all developing and underdeveloped countries of the world. Actually it's a cultural orientation that's given rise to so many other host of problems alongside. Hopefully by turn of the decade we should be in a better place..
  • J*****
    As per me, At my home when I get my period first person to get to know this is my dad. And then my mom. My dad always bring chocolates for me on the first day. I am allowed to enter kitchen. Rather I am allowed to do anything. My family is very broad minded. We have already started the change from our family. And I am proud of that.
  • S*****
    I feel charity begins at home, As a women we should break stereotypes in our homes like not entering in kitchen, not touching pickle jar etc. We must try and identify the scientific reasons behind these traditions and then we should decide whether it should be followed or not. Because subconsciously we are transferring our irrational mentality to our kids/ sisters and other family members.
  • M*****
    Yes,it's still a taboo to even talk about it openly. But thank goodness, we sisters are very open up about this with our brother..and he doesn't shys away from us. He knows it's a normal every month routine... Would like to mention an incident... in childhood he would know that 5 days of a month we girls were not allowed to go to temple... ( that time my mother had told him that if crow touches that we r not allowed to go to temple) ... so whenever he didn't wanted to visit temple with us(family) ...He use to joke ohh..I cannot come to temple with you as crow has touched me(5 days issue)😀
  • S*****
    People are still orthodox in metro cities as well. I went to buy sanitry pads today and the shopkeeper was looking at me as if I bought some untouchable thing. It will take a lot of more time and effort in order to make this change.
  • S*****
    The idea of making such a movie is well appreciated but people with traditional and orthodox thinking will never accept
  • P*****
    A great idea to make such a movie but a country with such a myopic mindset cannot do away with these ideas. Periods are a new thing but a custom like dowry , has it been nipped? I think more education, globalization has enhanced it. A food for thought, so do you think making such movies can change the Indian mindset.??
  • A*****
    I think it is a step in the right direction. It's definitely not a one stop way towards ending the stigma around menstruation but it gives me hope for a future where women don't have to give up life for the few days they're bleeding.
  • P*****
    It was a bold move and an eye opener too. But the fact is these movies inspire people like us who really want to make some change, but still a larger group of population thinks of it as an illness and a form of impurity. It will take generations to see slight changes. We will have to continue spreading awareness by our end. Have seen the movie it is very real and shows the exact depiction of the prevalent society.
  • P*****
    In our country it is still a Taboo .per Badlav toh aayega. New generation is very open minded n enthusiastic , they will bring the change. It will take time to total elimination of this stigma...now we are changing deffinately.
  • R*****
    In a country like India, these topics are meant only for making documentaries, winning awards and the forgetting forever. The real stigma remains as it is. It shall take ages for people to talk about periods openely and without any hesitation
  • P*****
    I have seen this documentary, its a very good effort though but in a country like India to completely eliminate this stigma is still a distant dream. It will take a little more time and the time is not far when India will welcome all these things with open arms.😊
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