Most girls, even in Kathmandu Valley, do not know much about menstruation prior to getting it. Nirvani Sharma, a teacher at Uma Maheswor School in Lalitpur, had to send a Grade 6 student home after she came to school without wearing a sanitary pad when her periods started.
“This situation could have been easily avoided if her parents had told her about periods,” Sharma said. Many school girls miss classes because of lack of awareness, or social and physical discomfort during menstruation. Some even drop out of school.
Pranisha Adhikari, 17, says that although she is comfortable talking about most things, learning about menstruation in school wasn’t easy, mainly because of the attitude of boys in her class.
“It is important for boys to also take interest in learning about menstruation, so that they are aware of what is happening to their classmates, instead of making it more uncomfortable for us,” Adhikari said.
This natural aspect of reproductive health is still largely viewed as something negative, shameful, dirty and embarrassing. All the adolescent girls interviewed for this story said that they were not satisfied with their knowledge of menstruation, and there was a lot they were still confused about. How to deal with period cramps, for example, was the top question everyone had. The second concerned menstrual hygiene.
They suggested that since students spend so much time every day in school, it would be most effective if schools had regular programs discussing these issues, normalising the talk and attitude towards menstruation.
Says Pranisha Adhikari, “What we learn through textbooks is helpful, but it still doesn’t equip us to deal with real life situations. For example menstrual hygiene is not discussed in depth, it is too important a matter for us not to know much about it. ”
Removing menstrual shame, Clara Hare-Grogg
That time of the month, Rubeena D Shrestha
Girl talk: period, Anjana Rajbhandari