Students of a school in Barrackpore have put up an art installation about menstrual hygiene and what women go through in many families even today.
The installation on “the period of a woman’s life when she is menstruating” by girls and boys of Douglas Memorial Higher Secondary School challenges stereotypes and popular customs that create limitations for women.
Women are restricted from performing rituals and making offerings to God while menstruating, said Prajita Datta of Class XI, one of the students who made the installation.
“Through our installation, we tried to depict how societal norms or expectations limit women despite menstruation being a natural occurrence of her body,” she said.
The installation was part of the school exhibition held last week where parents and students of all classes were invited.
It struck a chord with the spectators and some of them walked up to the students to compliment them.
“There is no shame and more men and women will understand this eventually,” a 35-year-old woman told one of the students.
The installation carried a note: “Shh! Do not talk about this openly. It’s meant to be spoken in private. Girls are meant to tolerate pain, not a big deal. In this fast-paced world, where civilisation has taken huge strides in developing mankind, there is still a section of the society where illogical ideas prevail, where women’s health and hygiene go for a toss. To talk about menstraution is still considered a taboo. Every nation rests in the hands of the youth. So let’s gear up to create a society where logical thoughts and scientific principles are hailed.”
Principal Sonia Gidla said: “We have had sessions with both our boys and girls on menstruation. If students take a stand, the message goes to their parents as well. This generation is more vocal unlike us when had a more restricted upbringing and it was taboo to talk about menstruation.”
In many families, women themselves find it difficult to break free of the norms that they have been following for years despite their education and awareness, said a teacher.
“Depicting and talking about it is not enough. We need to take some action,” said Rudra Saha, a Class XI student.
“In my home, I still see my cousins not talking openly about menstruation in front of me or other men in the family. This, too, has to change,” he said.
“Shopkeeper put sanitary napkins in a black plastic before handing it over. If I am on my period, nobody is supposed to know about it. This starts from families where our grandmothers or mothers teach us that it has to be kept a secret,” said Class XI student Sayantani Bagchi.
The exhibition also had installations on child abuse and nature conservation.