Is menstruation nature or sin?

A reader rejects the idea that menstruation is impure and argues that we still have to shed a lot of old baggage


Manju Mishra

Manju Mishra :   Readerspeak


India’s Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani described it as “just plain common sense. Would you take sanitary napkins soaked in menstrual blood into a friend’s home? You will not. And do you think that it is respectful to do the same when you walk into the house of God?”

Irani was weighing in on the issue of whether women should be allowed into Sabarimala temple, as the country’s Supreme Court recently ordered.

I am sorry, but I really cannot understand the meaning of Irani’s statement.

“Does this statement mean, that women should be confined to their rooms and shouldn’t be allowed out of the house while they are menstruating because they will always be wearing “sanitary napkins soaked in menstrual blood?”

Are you trying to tell me that women should leave their responsibilities and change their lifestyle while going through a natural process? I am sorry but we didn’t choose this, we have it and we have to live with it; it’s time everyone else learned to live with it too.

I am shocked. I would like to all of us acknowledge what this means. Are we pushing women back to the old times when they were treated like untouchable filthy animals for the days they were menstruating? Women were relegated to a dirty corner, cut off from mainstream life, as though they are committing a sin. Others may not want to touch these “filthy” people during that time, but imagine what it feels like for the women going through this kind of discrimination.

I think we need to make our choices. In my home I don’t have any discretion; I don’t change my daily life just because I have my period. I wake up, I drop my daughter to school, and I do my all regular activities. I participate in my daily religious rituals as well, such as my pooja, just as I would on any other day.

Menstruating is not something that needs to be hidden, especially not from God; God made women and their bodies, so nothing is wrong or अपिवत्र (“apavitra,” or impure) in it, There is a reason this happens. In my opinion, menstruation is as normal as breathing.

As far as I am concerned, I would not like to visit any place in the world where I am not welcome. It’s simple: if I am welcome somewhere I’ll happily go; if not, I’ll not. But my concern is that we are still caught up in the age-old view that women are impure and untouchable during menstruation. It tells us that we may have become modern in our attire, our looks, and our lifestyles, but we still have not shed our conservative thinking.

We have miles to go to achieve real development, in a world where equality is present in myriad ways, shapes, and forms.

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