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

Comments

More

Everything you need to know about growing your own vegetables

(Even if you don't have loads of space)

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Feb 2017

Calling all vino fans: are you ready for red wine ice cream?

Ice cream and red wine, together at last…

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Feb 2017

Letters penned 100 years apart show unchanging attitude to abortion

"I'm in the family way again, and I'm nearly crazy..."

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Feb 2017

Woman opens up about having her grandmother as her bridesmaid

“She’s my best friend”

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Feb 2017

Artist captures how mental illness feels with sketches of houses

“It belongs to our lives and we must not stigmatise it”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Feb 2017

Pair cheese and wine like a pro with this incredible interactive map

Winchester Aged Gouda with a glass of Amarone della Valpolicella, anyone?

by Moya Crockett
21 Feb 2017

Elderly woman finds £5 note worth £50k, donates it to “young people”

She’s the hero we need right now, if not the one we deserve.

by Moya Crockett
21 Feb 2017

Watch Emma Watson sing ‘Belle’ in new Beauty and the Beast clip

“There goes the baker with his tray, like always…”

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Feb 2017

The worst date I’ve ever witnessed: waiters share their stories

From the toe-curlingly awkward to the jaw-on-floor shocking.

by Moya Crockett
20 Feb 2017

Men open up about “the one that got away” in thought-provoking video

But not all is as it seems…

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Feb 2017