“Menstruation is the biggest taboo in India” – Arunachalam Murauganantham (Social Entrepreneur, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India)
Period. End of sentence is a short documentary about a group of women in Hapur, Uttar Pradesh, India. They learn to use a machine that produces low-cost biodegradable sanitary pads, which they pitch to other women under the brand name FLY.
This is an ambitious project that centers around making periods, a taboo free topic. Along with it is improvement of not only female hygiene, however, health as a whole.
It is a fact that menstruation is considered as something people shouldn’t talk about in my country. In the documentary, the area shown is outside 60kms of New Delhi, though, tell me a place in the capital of the country, where this subject is talked about without hesitation? If me, or you were to state examples, we can come up with literally too many of them.
Sure, times are changing. I do not disagree. If you are an Indian and you are reading this article, you might as well oppose saying, that’s not exactly the case. Tell me, do you not hide your sanitary pad whilst at work or maybe even at home, from the male co – workers or male members? We shy away from even mentioning about this out loud, especially to men.
This is not the situation only in our country though. I have lived in Nepal for many years. They even have a tradition called “Chhaupadi”, as indicated by which women / girls are not permitted to enter the kitchen or sanctuary or even partake in any everyday exercises amid those days of the month as they are looked at as debased. They are supposed to live separately in a “menstruation hut”. I have seen this with my own eyes, this is the truth that exists even today. “Nachune”, i.e. “untouchable”, is the term used for periods in Nepalese language! Women are not allowed to enter the kitchen / temple, even in the city area, and I am talking about well educated women who follow this practise.
Also, I watched “Padman”, which is based on the life of Arunachalam Murauganantham, whom we also see in this film, left me shocked. The traditions that are practised in some parts of India, are similar to those I mentioned above! I quickly checked so as to know how much of it is true and found out that most of it in fact is true, other than what was added as a cinematic element to raise the drama factor. While I have mentioned about it, you might as well want to catch Padman, which has been made with a similar intent and that is the best thing about it.
I am blessed to have been raised in a family where I can ask my dad to get sanitary pads for me when I can’t do so myself. Nor does my faith confine me from visiting the gurdwaara (Sikh place of worship) or entering the kitchen during these days. This was an ordinary thing for me, until I saw how these situations can be in rural areas or in families where they shy away from the topic or consider it a taboo. Furthermore, what hurts, is the fact that even educated people believe in unnecessary myths and practice them and pass it on to future generations.
This is an important documentary that everyone should get a chance to watch, not only in the rural, but in the urban areas as well. It is effective and powerful in spreading the intended message about the natural phenomena. There is nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed due to any dumb superstition around bleeding during those days or about using a pad. Feeling or made to feel ashamed of menstruating is like being ashamed or made to feel ashamed of being a woman. It is not something to laugh about, it is not something that men shouldn’t know about or pretend as if they do not know about. Nor should one support any mindless practices around chums and or advocate it.
The film throws light on the mindset of people of all age groups around the subject, problems that women in rural areas have to face during these days and otherwise as well, also affecting their education and future. We are also introduced to a bright ambitious girl who strives to bring a change in the society. We get to know how patriarchy dominates the society resulting in the situation and circumstances that woman have to face. The production of low cost sanitary pads and making India a 100% napkin using country is also set in focus. In about 26 minutes, the movie tries to capture multiple angles of looking at the situation and ends on “hope”.
I would like to thank Rayka Zehtabchi and team, who chose such an important subject that needed light thrown on. Thanks to the Academy for recognizing this film, which brought our attention to this project. I feel happy to have been able to watch this movie and write down my feelings and share it with you all, this has further helped me to change the way I look at the topic as well and has helped me become a better person.
PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE
*** ⛄️⛄️⛄️⛄️ ***
Director (s): Rayka Zehtabchi
Producer (s): Rayka Zehtabchi, Melissa Berton, Garrett Schiff, Lisa Taback
Music: Giosuè Greco, Dan Romer, Osei Essed
Cinematography: Sam Davis
Editor: Sam Davis
Disclaimer: I do not own the images provided.