By Ashvinder Kaur | OPINION | MALAYSIA |
I don’t know if this stigma exists here. I think it does.
I still feel so much shame that a few years ago, a female sewadar (camp volunteer) told the girls in a Gurmat camp (usually just called samelans in Malaysia) — IN THE DARBAR and in front of everyone — that they need to sort the toilets because of a pad situation. Boys had let out jaikaras.
A friend, upon approaching a senior sewadar to ask him to do something, was told that we should hear it. Other grown adult male sewadars made fun of their female friends that day – made fun of their menstruation. We felt shame. Anger. Confusion. Sadness.
a) period / pads/ bloody pads is something to be ashamed about;
b) still not something we can talk about openly and in a mature manner;
c) boys still make fun of this – probably due to lack of exposure and education;
d) society elders still react this way.
Did I do something about it? Yes. I talked to senior sewadars. Got shrugs.
In the next small camps that I went to, I spoke about this. Showed boys pads. My male friends educated the younger generation in how to support and help female friends or family members, and just be a chilled out human.
I’m not posting this to cari pasal (find faulty). But it’s 2019. How are we reacting to menstruation? Can you openly talk about it?
There aren’t even bins to dispose pads in some gurdwaras. Maybe it’s time to provide proper bins, newspapers or wrappers, some signages? What if we provide pads, too, in the restrooms?
What if we stopped shrugging and tried to make a difference?
The wheels are in motion after the amazing response the post received. The basic plan that we have in place involves the simple act of providing amenities, and to educate, for now. We are ready to smash shame. We hope that this will invoke a paradigm shift not just for menstruation but also respect for women. Well, respect should be for everyone.
Ashvinder Kaur is a chemist by day and an active Sikh volunteer. The thoughts above, first shared at her personal Facebook page in response to the Binti article at Asia Samachar, ignited an interesting discussion.
The Period Policy launch at London gurdwara (Asia Samachar, 4 March 2019)
Talking menstrual at gurdwaras (Asia Samachar, 12 Feb 2019)
Menstruation: Ickkk? Not according to Guru Nanak Sahib (Asia Samachar, 16 May 2016)