On In People & Politics

This Menstruating Girl Was Banned From Looking Into Mirror And See What She Did

I still remember the day when my hostel roommate refused to share her pickle with me when I was on my period, claiming that pickle rots when an 'impure' girl (READ: a girl going through her regular biological activity inside her body) would touch it. Trust me, much worse is going on in deeper parts of the country of Nepal. Menstruating girls, who are considered 'impure' are forbidden to touch utensils, enter the kitchen, wash their hair and sleep inside a cowshed instead of their own homes! A lot of period myths make the lives of young girls hell, both emotionally and physically. According to WaterAid, these girls don't have an adequate supply of water, making things worse for their health and sanitation. A group of girls collaborated with WaterAid and took pictures of things they are banned from while menstruating. Some of them are extremely shocking.

Uttara Saud sits in a shed where she's forced to sleep while on her period.

Manisha photographs the water she can't touch while menstruating.

Manisha Karki says: "I took this picture when my aunt was fetching water. Water is very important for our body and for our existence. Water is important for cleanliness as well.  We are not allowed to touch water if we are in our menstrual cycle and someone else is fetching water. We have to wait in the line until everybody’s done. By the time we reach home it’s already dark, and sometimes it’s difficult to complete our homework in the darkness.In these situations, I feel helpless and I feel as if my hands are tied up as I can do nothing but stand and stare. During these times, I want to strongly revolt against such biased beliefs."

Bandana photographs her family who she's not allowed to eat with.

Bandana Khadka: "This is my mother and sister. Here, my mother is feeding my sister with so much love. My mother loves me very much as well — however, during my menstruation cycle I am kept separately and have to eat at a distance.When nobody touches me, I feel unloved. We need lots of love and support during our menstruation but, when I am separated and treated like an untouchable I feel no love from my mother and father and I feel only hatred. I feel sad."

Sushma snaps a mirror, whom girls are banned from looking into.

Sushma Diyali: "This is a picture of a mirror and comb. In our society, when girls experience their first menstruation, we are not allowed to look into mirrors or comb our hair.I think that is wrong. Me and my family do not follow such practice, but I have many friends whose families are really strict about it, so most of my friends were not allowed to look themselves in the mirror.If my friends could grow in an environment where there were no limitations regarding menstruation, and receive more support from their families, they could set themselves free and explore greater opportunities."

Manisha photographs the food she can't cook and eat.

Manisha says: "This is a picture of my kitchen. My mother had just finished cooking ‘sel-roti.’ I love roti. But during menstruation, I am not allowed to enter the kitchen.I am also not allowed to touch belongings in the kitchen: materials, food and utensils. I am not allowed to eat ‘sel-roti’ either.Other days when I am not in the cycle I work and eat in the same kitchen, so eating separately during menstruation makes me sad. I feel outcasted, like a stranger who’s not the part of the family."

Bisheshtha photographs the place where she was washed after her first period. Then she was forced to leave home.

Bisheshtha Bhandari: "This is the place where I washed myself during my first menstruation. When I had my first period, I had to stay at someone else’s house, as we were not allowed to stay in our own home.It was 15 minutes away from my house. Teenage girls are more secure with their own parents, be it during menstruation or not. But following social culture, we have to stay in some other house for seven days, where we may not be as secure."

Sushma photographs her school headmaster whom she asked to improve the sanitation in the premises for the girls on their period.

Sushma says: This is the principal of our school. I want to let him know about the situations that we girls face during our menstruation because of lack of services in our school. We face a lot of problems because there is no provision of pads in our school. There is no proper place where we can change our pads, and burn them after we have used them. There is no provision of clean drinking water as well.We have to miss classes 3-4 days every month — and the proper management of all these services would change the scenario." Images and content credits: Huffington Post