“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 shame, 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 !! For us, this was another Habib story ( a dead body picker; whose little daughter slept with dead bodies to keep herself warm.. one of the triggers for Goonj). This was equally shocking and unreal, it acted like fuel to go deeper into the non issues of sanitary pads and menstruation..
An extensive search on google yielded nothing.. hardly a decade back no major research and no solution in this part of the world. We started traveling to rural India to understand the realities and what we found 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 raising voice on all the possible forums. Instead of just using these pads as a product we use 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 and has certainly been able to make a small dent in turning this non issue into an issue !!
To mainstream this non issue, Goonj has recently initiated ‘NJPC- A Million Voices’ a global campaign to bring together a million voices from across the globe.It’s time you make your voice heard on www.njpc.goonj.org. Do talk to your family, friends, colleagues and relatives too..
Worldwide people will be observing first ‘Menstrual Hygiene Day’ on May 28th. It is certainly a good beginning to shed the silence and shame and here are some simple ways to join..
** On June 15th, Goonj will be sharing about its on-going comprehensive work and innovative approaches in Uttarakhand; One of the biggest campaigns for Goonj with an overwhelming support from all over. For more details on the event in Delhi, please keep a track of our facebook and website.
** For contributions, please refer- http://goonj.org/?page_id=55
It’s time to speak, express and recognise that this is not a WOMEN issue.. it is a HUMAN issue !!