New Delhi: It is Diya’s 9th birthday and all her friends, Gargi, Rani, and Samina have gathered at her place to celebrate her birthday. From cutting cake, playing games to enjoying snacks, all are having a good time, except Rani who seems a bit upset. Concerned, Diya’s mother makes an effort to understand the cause of Rani’s demeanor. The 12-year old reveals that she is having a stomach ache since morning and wants to use the restroom. In the restroom, Rani finds blood stains on her underpants, which worries her and she ends up crying.
Blood stains on Rani’s underpants were a mark of her first periods, but lack of knowledge scared Rani. At that moment, Diya’s mother, who is a doctor by profession and specialises in obstetrics and gynaecology, gave her sanitary napkin and explained to her its usage and how to dispose of a sanitary napkin. Next day, Diya’s mother took Diya and three of her friends to her clinic and explained to them the concept of puberty, periods, why it is important, the myths that surround menstruation, menstrual hygiene products, what’s the average period cycle and other related things.
Rani and her friends are a handful of those lucky girls who had access to sanitary napkin and expert guidance. We live in a country where 88 per cent of the menstruating women depend on unhygienic alternatives like cloth piece, sand, husk, newspaper, etc. Menstruation is considered as a dirty word and a taboo. Mothers don’t talk to their girls about periods. Women feel ashamed talking about something as natural as sweating or breathing.
To overcome this issue, 39-year-old software professional Geeta Bora, who left her well-paying job in US and came back to India, started Spherule Foundation in Pune, to create awareness about menstruation, through a comic book ‘Moon Time’.
During the awareness and education programmes in slum areas, when I interact with girls, I come across dozens of myths they go by, one should not bathe or shampoo their hair while they are menstruating, using sanitary napkin will make them pregnant, and many more. They have too many queries and questions. Sometimes even I fail to answer them and solve their doubts. In order to answer all the questions and break all the myths associated with menstruation with facts, we have come up with this book, says Geeta while talking to NDTV.
For the content of the book, the team has taken help from 10 national and international doctors. The reason behind consulting different doctors is simply to be sure about the information they impart through this book. The comic book format has been used to make the book engaging and to make young girls understand the concept of period in an easy yet effective way.
The idea is not to just give information or preach someone. A reader should read the book with all the interest and understand things like a lay man. For the same, we have used the conversation style of storytelling. The comic format visually displays narration and creates more impact on young minds. I am sure, while reading, young girls will relate to Diya, Gargi, Rani, and Samina at different point of time. It is a perfect read for girls between 8-18 years, says Geeta.
Currently, the English version of the book is available in form of PDF and kindle version, but by the end of this month, Hindi and Marathi version will be launched and in June the distribution of ‘Moon Time’ will also begin. Soon the paperback version of the book will be available online. The book priced at Rs. 150 will be distributed for free to girls of government and municipality schools in Maharashtra. Those who can afford can purchase the book. Along with this, the plan is to launch book in different languages and reach girls across India by the year end.
We believe that our girls deserve a complete health education that makes them feel comfortable about menstruation rather than feeling shy or awkward. At Spherule, our aim is to remove the word ‘taboo’ from menstruation, signs off Geeta.