Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Young women in India are writing beautiful period-inspired poetry

period-poetry-indian-girls.jpg

In the UK, periods still carry a certain stigma. But the taboo is vastly magnified in India, where it’s estimated that only 12% of the country’s menstruating women are able to afford sanitary pads (the other 88% are often forced to use alternatives such as unsanitised cloth, ashes and sand). The practice of banishing rural women and girls to huts outside their villages during their periods is prevalent in parts of central India, and over 30% of girls in northern India say that they dropped out of school after starting menstruating.

The United Nations says that stigma around menstruation is a human rights issue, and over the last few years there have been several campaigns designed to dispel myths surrounding periods in the country. Breaking the Silence, an education initiative launched by journalist and campaigner Urmila Chanam, has reached women and girls all over the country, while the hashtag #HappyToBleed went viral back in late 2015.

Now one group of medical school students in southern India have picked up the baton – by picking up their pens.

periods

The students, who attend Calicut Medical College in Kerala, have written a series of moving poems about the experiences and attitudes surrounding periods in India for a campaign called The Red Cycle.


Read more: The 40 fearless feminists who rallied against bigotry in 2016


“Silence is the first lesson a girl in India learns once she steps into ‘womanhood’,” say the team behind The Red Cycle on the campaign’s Facebook page. “From sanitary napkins meticulously covered and kept away from public sight to an endless list of menstrual myths, society considers menstruation a dirty subject rather than a normal physiological process vital in sustaining life.”

periods

The students add that they hope their poems will help shatter some of the stigma surrounding menstruation in their home country.


Read more: “I got that flow”: feminist trio’s rap about periods goes viral


“The fact that most of the entries were made by college students and there was large male participation shows that hopes are high on the horizon,” they say. “A time when a woman who bleeds will not be looked upon with hatred and fear is definitely not far away.”

Read on for more of our favourite poems from The Red Cycle campaign, and click here to see every poem in the series.

periods
periods
periods

Main image: iStock

Related

iStock-505468024.jpg

Lucy Mangan guides us into the New Year

iStock-516136270.jpg

Scientists confirm PMT could be a genetic condition

Pharmacy.jpg

Over-charged and humiliated: the ordeal of the morning-after pill

More

Dame Helen Mirren has her say on Ivanka and Melania Trump

She’s not one to bite her tongue

by Susan Devaney
16 Aug 2017

These are the most-searched gender-neutral baby names in the UK

Parents are increasingly leaning towards androgynous names, according to new research.

by Moya Crockett
16 Aug 2017

How to stop negative news stories impacting your mental health

14 ways to stay calm when the world’s headlines trigger your anxiety

by Kayleigh Dray
16 Aug 2017

Cadbury coated Oreos are a thing and they look ridiculously good

Oreo addicts, this is essential reading

by Megan Murray
16 Aug 2017

Everything we know so far about The Handmaids Tale 2

Here’s what we can expect to happen in the second series

16 Aug 2017

Customers refuse to tip waitress after spotting her pro-LGBT tattoo

“Can’t tip someone who doesn’t love Jesus”

by Susan Devaney
16 Aug 2017

The most uplifting tweets about the Charlottesville violence

Obama's message became the most liked tweet in history

by Sarah Biddlecombe
16 Aug 2017

Game of Thrones fans, could this be Cersei’s secret son?

Read on at your own peril…

by Kayleigh Dray
16 Aug 2017

Woman sparks debate after complaining about “cheap” engagement ring

How much is not enough?

by Kayleigh Dray
16 Aug 2017

Sex toy reviewer is a job and it pays £28,000 (with unlimited holiday)

Get paid to do something you really love: you

by Kayleigh Dray
16 Aug 2017