A piece of cloth OR a tool to break the silence and shame!!
“Sharm kee baat hai sahab, izzat ka mamla hai..kaun bolega? Saara gaon jaanta hai kee, vo tetanus sey mari thee.. hook key karan..” (It is a matter of shyness/modesty, a matter of dignity; who will speak about it? The entire village knows that she died of tetanus.. because of the hook)
These words still echo.. almost a decade ago we found this ghastly reality of a woman who died of tetanus due to a rusted hook in the piece of blouse, she used during menses !! This was shocking and unreal and it acted like fuel to go deeper into the non-issues of sanitary pads and menstruation..
An extensive search on Google yielded nothing.. no major research and no solution in this part of the world, hardly a decade back. We started traveling to rural India to understand the realities and what we found this still holds true!! Millions of women use sand, ash, dry grass, rugs, rags to plastic sheets in the name of sanitary pads. Over the years we came across a deep rooted culture of shame and silence around this. Somewhere women are forced to sleep in cow sheds while at many places they can’t enter the kitchen. Suppression, isolation, superstition, rituals, lack of a viable solution.. it’s a saga of indignity and trauma around this most taboo issue.
We started turning small pieces of clean cloth into sanitary pads - now called ‘MY Pad’ and started raising our voice on different national and international forums. Instead of just using these pads as a product Goonj uses them as a tool, as an entry point to open up the subject, create awareness and force people to think and open up.. In the last few years, Goonj has been able to create over 2.5 million environment friendly, re-usable, economic cloth sanitary pads - MY Pads. This hascertainly made a small dent in turning this non issue into an issue.
To mainstream this non issue, Goonj has recently launched ‘NJPC- A Million Voices’ a global campaign to bring together a million voices from across the globe. The campaign aims to highlight the culture of shame and silence that countless young girls and women face all over the world, around menses. The main element of the campaign is the questionnaire (http://njpc.goonj.org/lets-get-started/), which aims at getting one million men and women from all walks of life to share their thoughts, opinions and practices around menses. YOU too should fill this form. The site also shares a lot of global disturbing facts, practices, case studies and research on the issue. The objective is to mainstream the issue and to shun the taboo around this natural biological process.
Goonj has been working on this issue for almost a decade now. Through the ‘Million Voices campaign’ we want to start a dialogue among the masses, making it a normal thing to talk about…because we feel shattering the silence is the starting point to deal with the taboos, embarrassment and health risks associated with menses. Some disturbing facts highlighting the need for this campaign;
The million voices collected through this campaign will be a part of Goonj’s sustained efforts to bring about a mindset change in the civic society on this issue. This campaign is an extension of Goonj’s ongoing work across India. Six activities that you can do to be a part of this campaign could be accessed at http://njpc.goonj.org/newsletter-a-piece-of-cloth-or-a-tool-to-break-the-silence-and-shame-do-read-and-act/
Please spread the word in your own network. Get as many people as possible to share their thoughts, experiences and opinions through the Million Voices campaign form. Click http://njpc.goonj.org/lets-get-started/
It’s time you make your voice heard…
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