Social beliefs on menstruation and it’s negative impact on the mental health of young people. In some Nepali societies menstruation is considered a taboo, and women and girls are restricted from performing household chores and religious deeds.
Tension builds up for 14-year-old Dipika Bhandari of Pokhara Metropolitan City-14 at the end of each month due to the trouble of managing periods. This has been a reoccurring issue for Bhandari since she hit menarche a year ago.
The fact that she is not permitted to eat meals with her family when menstruating is the thing that concerns her the most. “Not only that, but my mother has given me a huge list of dos and don’ts for the periods that I must absolutely observe,” Bhandari said.
Bhandari routinely engages in talks with her mother, inquiring as to why girls aren’t permitted to eat with their families, sleep in their regular beds, or even visit the kitchen during their periods.
Bhandari is merely an illustration. Many girls in society are still fighting against gender constraints based on superstitious ideas about menstruation.
Menstruation is regarded taboo in some Nepali civilizations, and women and girls are barred from completing household tasks and religious duties. Period limitations are tied to religion as well as cultural norms and beliefs that the majority of people in our culture have followed for generations.
These limitations have become a significant hardship for this generation’s young girls and women. They frequently claim that menstruation was taught to them as a biological event in school. However, their social views and practices around menstruation at home were in direct opposition to what they were taught in school.
Sabina Sapkota, 16, of Pokhara-31 Begnastaal, however, has a different story to tell. She broke the rules for the first time one afternoon while alone at home during her period. She was studying for her SEE exam and had developed the habit of drinking extra water and snacking on fruits while studying.
Because she was alone at home and no one was available to give her water from the kitchen, she went into the kitchen herself to obtain the water. At the same moment, her mother appeared. “The way my mother punished me at the time was the worst experience of my life, and I had a nervous breakdown for over a week,” she explained.
“Biologically, throughout periods, pregnancy, and the post-partum stage, a female body wants care, hygiene, and adequate relaxation. A woman’s body gets weak in these situations and requires special attention “According to Pratima Adhikari, a health worker from Kaski’s Madi Rural Municipality,
Period limitations may have been put in place to allow women to rest during their menstrual periods. “However, because these practices are being used as a tool of gender discrimination, women and girls have to deal with mental burdens during their periods,” Adhikari explained.
Because of the antiquated procedure of child delivery, Jamuna Poudel, 30, of Madi-6, had a bad experience giving birth. She had to sleep in a goat hut for 21 days after giving birth to her first kid about six years ago. For 21 days, she couldn’t get a decent night’s rest.
She couldn’t eat well and was experiencing terrible constipation. She was afraid that the stitches from the operation would come undone if she ate meat. “In the guise of eating, I had simply Thyme (Jwano) soup and rice,” she explained.
Furthermore, the mother-in-law used to believe that garments stained with the mother’s blood would bring the family terrible luck.
After the delivery, she was under severe emotional stress. ” She was unable to adequately breastfeed her infant due to a lack of appropriate food, adding to her stress. “This unpleasant experience and treatment from my in-laws pushed me to separate and raise my children alone,” Poudel explained.
Various programs such as sanitary pad distribution, adolescence education, public awareness interaction, and orientation have been conducted at local levels for the past few years in order to prevent a serious impact on the physical and mental health of women in the aftermath of a natural process like menstruation and childbirth.
The experiences recounted by health workers in these programs revealed that many mothers continue to impose limits on their daughters or daughters-in-law because they are afraid of social rejection.
“This implies that the community still requires proper orientation and information on matters of menstrual or maternity health,” Adhikari, who is also the chief of Madi Rural Municipality’s Taprang Health Office, said.
According to Sabina Shrestha, the head of the Pokhara Metropolitan Health Division’s Women and Adolescent Program, roughly 4% of the women in the Pokhara Metropolitan City’s health camps have uterine enlargement and are VIA positive. “This demonstrates that, even in metropolitan areas, women do not receive adequate care and nutrition during menstruation and childbirth,” she explained.