This June, young girls in the State will have a fun resource to learn about an important biological function.
Menstrupedia, an Ahmedabad-based initiative, is planning to release a comic book that will provide essential information about menstruation, in an easy and accessible manner.
The book will first be released in English, and then translated into other languages, said Aditi Gupta, co-founder of the initiative.
“We already have volunteers who have agreed to translate it into Tamil and are hoping to be able to distribute it to schools, both in rural and urban areas,” she said.
The aim of the comic book, Ms. Gupta said, is to help young girls manage their periods effectively and to help parents and educators teach them about menstruation.
“Often, schoolteachers simply skip the subject. In many cases, menstruating girls are branded impure. Another objective of the comic book is to dispel this notion of impurity and the many taboos and myths associated with it,” she said.
Other initiatives too have attempted to tackle the issue, with animated videos, websites and talks in schools, but the comic book will be helpful as comics are something young children are interested in, and it does not depend on the Internet or electricity, said Ms. Gupta.
“Any initiative that creates awareness about this is good, as there is a huge amount of ignorance on this subject,” said Aruna Rathnam, education specialist, UNICEF, Chennai.
Ms. Rathnam said trouble managing their periods is a contributing factor to girls dropping out of schools. “In many cases, mothers too don’t know much about it and won’t talk about it due to socio-cultural restrictions. Girls grow up ignorant and afraid, and this leads to a host of issues,” she said.
One issue, said A. Tamilselvi, consultant urogynaecologist, Madras Medical Mission, is skin infections caused due to the use of unhygienic products.
“Rashes and infections are common but many girls are reluctant to seek medical help as there is hesitation to talk about this issue,” she said. Some estimates suggest that 75 per cent of women in rural areas in the country lack knowledge about menstrual hygiene and over 20 per cent of girls drop out of school when they begin menstruating.