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Menstrual health

Period Talk Through Comics!

Traditional education falls short in explaining periods to children. But voila! We have a comic book that offers a playful alternative to engaging young minds on the topic

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New Delhi: “Talk with your parents about periods. Why are we so secretive about it? It is a just another biological process. Agar periods na hote, toh hum na hote,” says 12-year-old Saheed. “Our bodies completely change once we start menstruating. We develop breasts, hair appear under arms, our voice changes. Now I understand that all this happens because of periods,” 15 year-old Chandni explains.

Saheed and Chandni, are among thousands of children who know what menstruation is and that it has nothing to do with shame, thanks to Menstrupedia.

Also Read: Maasika Mahotsav: Celebrating Menstruation And Empowering Women

What is Menstrupedia?

Menstrupedia is a comic about menstruation. “It is difficult to teach children about periods and remove the stigma surrounding it through school textbooks. Comics make it more relatable and have better recall value,” says Tuhin Paul, Co-founder of Menstrupedia.

This realisation led Tuhin, along with wife Aditi Gupta, to found Menstrupedia, a nonprofit organisation. The namesake comic is published under the umbrella of the organisation.

The platform has made a significant contribution to opening up the conversation on periods in nearly 25,500 schools across India.

Speaking to NDTV-Dettol Banega Swasth India about how the idea came into being, Aditi said,

Growing up , I did not know why periods happen, what changes you experience once you start menstruating. . It was the best kept secret! I grew up believing that menstruation is impure and hence my body is impure.. It was only after a chance discussion with Tuhin, then my college friend and now my husband, that changed my perception about menstruation.

The duo delved deeper into the topic and found out Aditi was not alone in this. There were there were millions of girls completely unaware of how menstruation happens and what has to be during menarche. This laid the foundation of Menstrupedia.

The comic is an 88-page book that talks about the changes experienced during puberty, the physiology and biology of it, right nutrition, wellness tips, period management, managing mental health, pad hygiene, and tips on how to make a pad at home.

Aditi says,

The book also talks about the common infections girls may experience while growing up.

Also Read: Wombs Or Livelihoods? Dilemma For Women In Maharashtra’s Beed

Naaz Farheen, a menstrual educator associated with Menstrupedia, teaches period health and hygiene to children in shelter homes and government schools. Talking about the ease the comic book has provided in discussing periods, Farheen said,

Childhood is something we associate with comics. Through this medium, period talk becomes very easy to convey and receive. The topic then easily transforms into open discussions in classrooms and within peer groups.

Farheen also de-stigmatises the terms and methodologies for children . She says,

These topics are not discussed in our households. So, in a classroom setup, the comic book works as a tool of change for us, the period teachers , to bring the information to the masses.

Aditi and Tuhin started with books on menstruation, but the duo has now created thousands of puberty guides. Talking about the scale of impact, Tuhin informed that more than 30 million people have been educated about periods and puberty through these books, across the globe. These books are locally printed and published in 11 different countries as well.

Also Read: Lack Of Menstrual Hygiene Management Facilities At Schools Causes Girls’ Absenteeism, Shows A Study Conducted In 14 Districts

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India. 

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