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As you read this today, over 800 million women will have their periods worldwide. None of us would exist without it, yet it has been a topic always silenced. Writers, bloggers, and journalists speak about blood clots, digestion, and sex, but menstruation is off-limits.

Menstruation is the only blood that is released without violence and war, yet it is considered more shameful than anything else.

Every day, young women worldwide have their first menstrual period. A woman's period is a healthy and natural component of her reproductive health.

The first period can be thrilling for people prepared with information, hygiene supplies, and a supportive group. For example, when women begin menstruating in Sri Lanka, they have a “Poopunitha Neerathu Vizha”. This celebration involves ceremonies, gifts, and the girl's family and community, honouring the girl's period and celebrating her entrance into adulthood, and is similar to a Sweet 16, Bat Mitzvah, or Quinceaera celebration.

However, for some other females, the first day of their menstruation is a nightmare. They may never have had someone explain what menstruation is and how their bodies would change as they grow older. When some females witness their menstrual blood, they believe they are dying.

Period taboos and resource constraints exist worldwide, preventing females from managing their periods with dignity.

Menstruation was considered dirty by many traditional civilizations and scriptures. These ideas have shaped generations of cultural stigmas going back thousands of years.

Some Brahmin Hindu women are secluded during menstruation and do not participate in normal domestic activities.

In some forms of Judaism, women join in ritual bathing at the end of the menstrual period called Mikvah, before resuming sexual relations. Many religious or cultural practices forbid menstruating women from participating in religious ceremonies or engaging in any form of physical intimacy.

In Nepal, a historic practice called “Chhaupadi”, which was banned in 2018, primarily entailed banishing a woman who is menstruating, signifying impurity and dirtiness. This banishment exposes women and young girls to diseases, rape, and even death.

In United States, a luxury tax was placed on menstrual products, siting that these products are more of a luxury rather than a necessity. This increased the prices to a large extent and causes homelessness, as some women would be left to choose between a meal and sanitary products.

While these examples represent extremes in the cultural perception of menstruation, menstruation is nonetheless a taboo topic in some cultures, including ours. Negative views of the everyday, healthy process of menstruation are slowly improving over time.

Many researchers believe these works were motivated by hygiene, although there is still debate over their impact on patriarchal society in ancient and current times. Menstrual taboos and period shame, according to some, precede society and even language.

The taboo around menstruation extends to many aspects of a woman's physiology and sexuality, but it is most commonly associated with the stigma associated with discussing and caring for menstrual requirements.

Women are frequently excluded from social, domestic, and educational activities due to this taboo. In other societies, the taboo also makes people feel uncomfortable discussing periods is uncomfortable, embarrassing, or even deadly. As a result, women frequently employ code terms or slang to allude to their periods.

Scholars, authors, and psychologists have spent the previous two centuries attempting to pinpoint exactly what has contributed to period taboos. According to Sigmund Freud, fear of blood was one of the reasons for the taboos, with another being a woman's fear of losing her virginity.

According to Allan Coult, a twentieth-century author, the primordial man had an instinctive urge to prevent the negative consequences of menstruation on "organic materials." Taboos, according to Coult, arose as a means of coping with menstruation. Menstruation taboos, for whatever reason, have severe and actual consequences for the health, education, safety, and happiness of those who have periods.

There are various taboos about the existence of menstruation, leading to an umpteen number of problems for women worldwide.

Due to period poverty, some women resort to transactional sex to obtain menstrual health supplies.

"Period poverty" refers to an act where young girls have no means to purchase products like sanitary napkins, tampons,  etc., and must engage in other ways to obtain them.

To obtain the products they require, Kenyan girls have engaged in transactional intercourse with older males. Many girls are uninformed of the dangers of sex, such as sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, pregnancy, or violence caused by a partner's reliance.

A girl's first period is considered a sign that she is ready for marriage and children in some cultures. While menstruation marks the start of a woman's transition into womanhood, no girl is ready for marriage or childbirth when she first gets her period.

Girls can start menstruating around seven or eight years old or as late as sixteen or seventeen. In any case, child marriage violates human rights that frequently hinder girls from marrying the guy of their choice.

Child brides are far more likely than unmarried colleagues to become pregnant early. These girls are more likely to drop out of school, limiting their opportunities to achieve their full potential.

Female genital mutilation, or FGM, is another dangerous practice that is occasionally linked to menstruation.

FGM has numerous forms, but it usually involves cutting or removing a girl's labia or clitoris and blocking the vaginal hole with thread or a portion of the cut labia. Women and girls suffer from various health problems due to the practice, which is widely recognised as a human rights violation.

FGM is part of a rite in some communities when a girl receives her first menstruation.

Today, let us be hopeful of a future where periods would no more be a cause of shame, where pads/tampons collected from a store would not be given wrapped in 5 different covers. Moreover, women are finally given the freedom to talk about something so natural and relevant to 50% of the world's population.

In low-income countries, girls and women confront higher challenges than in Western countries. In many regions, cultural and religious beliefs regarding menstruation obstruct progress. Fortunately, programs such as UNICEF's different global campaigns are currently aiming to eliminate stigmas, taboos, and discrimination. In many nations worldwide, ending discriminatory behaviours, and educating people can enhance women's menstrual hygiene and advance human rights, and gives a chance to thousands of women to live freely without feeling impure or dirty.

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