Mohammad Fakhruddin Mehedi
DHAKA, June 3, 2017 (BSS) - Whenever we discuss the issue of menstruation, it's still a matter of shame and traditionally the conversation on the topic has turned into a 'social taboo' in Bangladesh even the country has been progressing fast.
It is unimaginable that in this 21st century girls prefer to stay home during menstruation due to lack of adequate facilities, social taboo.
According to a recent study, the beginning of menstruation is still considered as a sign of proper age for marriage of a girl. But over 97% Bangladeshi girls have been suffering from cervical infection due to non-hygienic menstruation.
The study also revealed that, 40% schoolgirls miss school at least 3 days a month during their period. Even their lady teachers miss quite frequently. On an average an RMG worker remains absent for 6 days per month due to period-related complications.
In rural areas, millions of women are suffering from exposed or enlarged uterus which is hampering normal sexual life and instigating their husbands for second marriage or extra marital relationship.
According to UNICEF data, there are 27.7 million adolescents aged 10-19 years in Bangladesh. Of them, 13.7 million (48% of the adolescent population) are adolescent girls which constitutes 23% of the total population.
A recent study on population sector of Bangladesh reveals that the adolescent growth rate is 4.3% compared to 1.7% of the total population.
On the other hand, there are 85% women workers in garment industries who are mostly in pubertal stage.
According to UNICEF data, an estimated 6.9 million children aged 5-14 years (12.9 per cent of the total labor force) are working and are exposed to hazardous and risky conditions, especially in metropolitan cities.
However, girls in Bangladesh not get enough support from their families or their teachers in school during this difficult time, and their problems intensify and multiply as they cannot share anything out of shame.
Most adolescents have limited scope for acquiring knowledge and skills for their self-development and protection.
Wreetu, an organization that is educating adolescent girls and women about puberty, period and menstruation, celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day recently at Bishwa Sahitya Kendra with the theme of "Family discussion breaks period taboo."
Around 140 audiences including students, teachers, parents, young male students and professionals and entrepreneurs from different background joined the function.
The event focused on raising awareness among the people to initiate a discussion with these facts and help the girls and women to enjoy a healthy period.
Sharmin Kabir, the founder of Wreetu, said puberty is a remarkable and a sensitive period in every girl's life when she experiences many new things and comes across to various questions and curiosities in mind.
"But, unfortunately our society is not favorable to sharing things that happen during puberty with a girl. Even the parents, guardians and the teachers never feel the necessity to talk about this fact with their girls," she said.
Sharmin said it resulted the adolescent girls get lack of access to the right information surrounding puberty that leads them sometimes to even an uncertain future.
She said puberty starts with a natural and biological process that is period or menstruation. But, this has turned into a 'social taboo' in the developing countries like Bangladesh and mostly considered as 'impure', 'sin', and 'shameful' thing.
Sharmin said they lack behind from the regular life. Like, the rural girls in Bangladesh monthly miss 3-4 school days on an average due to mismanagement of the period. Similarly, the working girls go through a vulnerable situation while they are in menstruation.
She said the problems that start with this ignorance can also lead a girl to risk while they conceive a baby.
During the adolescence period, experts said, mental change takes place side by side with physical change. At this time, the parents should extend their hand of cooperation.
The guardians could do flexible behavior about girls if they discuss the period management at the guardians' meeting in the educational institutions. It would help save children from horrific situation after menstruation.
The experts think that not ignoring the necessity of the reproductive health of the women, the family and educational institutions will have to consider the issue with utmost importance.