DHAKA, Priyanka (pseudonym), a private university student, even after adapting trendy and modern lifestyle she inherited some taboos regarding hygiene of menstruation.
During her menstruation, she doesn't go out of the house without emergency and even doesn't use sanitary pad.
My grandmother told me not to do much physical work during the menstruation and not to tell anyone about my period, she said.
Suggesting her to keep it secret as much as possible, Priyanka's grandmother warned that use of sanitary napkins can expose her to different diseases even cancer.
There are many other girls like Priyanka who has taboos or lack of knowledge regarding hygiene of menstruation.
Proper menstruation hygiene practice is hindered due to superstitions, lack of awareness and the taboos surrounding menstrual health.
As menstrual health is directly linked to sexuality and reproduction, physicians said lack of proper menstrual hygiene leads to infections, taking a toll on fertility and sexual wellbeing.
They advised for doing easy practices like using sanitary napkins or clean clothes, changing the cloth in use every other month, washing the cloth regularly and drying it in the sunlight as well as eating healthy and nutritious food during menstruation.
World Vision director Chandan Zed Gomez said women are yet to fully come out from various superstations regarding menstruation.
Many people still see menstruation as a secret women issue. It is prohibited to discuss with other family members. Elderly women usually tell the younger or adolescent to keep it secret to others. The adolescent girls are not advised properly that having menstruation is nothing but a natural physical phenomenon that is the symbol of able reproductive health, he said.
Gokmez said though menstruation hygiene has been included at school textbook but students at many schools are advised to read the chapter at home.
He said the Holy Cross School and College has a private room for students since long. The school authority provides counseling to its adolescent students regarding various physical and physiological issues privately, he added.
Currently, it is important to introduce such kind of counseling at every school. An adolescent girl can't be grown up properly if she doesn't have the knowledge of menstruation hygiene., he said.
At least 30 percent adolescent girls miss their schools during menstruation due to lack of appropriate facilities and support in the schools to manage menstruation, according to a government survey.
Besides, at least 64 percent schoolgirls are not provided with menstrual health education at their schools, found the National Hygiene Survey 2018.
Associate professor of gynecology at National Cancer Research Institute and Hospital in Dhaka Dr Afroza Khanom said the society got stigma about menstruation.
The society is not open to discussing and practicing menstrual hygiene management, which is a major drawback.
'It is unfortunate that still we cannot openly discuss menstruation in the family and in the social sphere,' she said.
Saying that sometimes family members even discourage girls to have protein food like fish, meat and eggs during the menstruation, Afroza advised girls to keep themselves clean and have nutritious food during their period.
However, she mentioned that the government has taken various initiatives in this regards.
As a result currently women are getting aware of menstruation hygiene and we have already observed some positive impact, she said.
Presenting a keynote paper at a seminar marking the Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019 in the capital recently, executive engineer of Department of Public Health Engineering Sharmistha Debnath said the rate of girls who have heard about menstruation before their menarche was 53 per cent in 2018, which was 36 per cent in 2014.
Local Government Division's senior secretary Ghulam Farooque said there had been progress in the indicators related to schoolgirls' menstrual hygiene management but there still remained a long way to go for overcoming the barriers concerning menstruation.
Farooque said a provision of separate wash facilities at the schools for girls and boys is crucially important and the government is working on it.
He said construction of separate wash facilities was completed at 32,000 primary schools and the work is going on at 65,000 more such schools.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)