BHUBANESWAR: A first-of-its-kind Braille book on menstrual hygiene was launched on the eve of International Women’s Day in the City on Wednesday. A voluntary organisation, Practical Action, launched the book, which will be distributed among at least 2,500 visually challenged girls across the State. The book is part of the organisation’s ‘Sunolo Sakhi’ initiative which is a knowledge delivery project designed to create awareness on menstrual hygiene among young girls. Earlier, the organisation had released audio-visual manuals for differently-abled girls.
“It took us three years to compile the book. Our volunteers visited slums and remote areas in the State to break the silence surrounding menstruation. We learnt about the superstitious beliefs and social stigma attached to the subject. Once we understood the issues, we compiled the book that contains a set of guidelines for women on how to maintain hygiene during menstruation. It also contains some frequently asked questions on the topic,” said Birupakshya Dixit, India head of the organisation.
Adolescence girls in the State are often deprived of higher education due to the stigma surrounding menstruation, added Dixit. During the book’s launch, young girls from underprivileged families narrated their personal experiences of those five days. “I belong to south Odisha. I remember how I was forced to take bath at night, when I menstruated for the first time, as part of the rituals. Girls are not allowed to step outside the house for seven days. I had to miss my school.
We weren’t even allowed to look at any man or boy during those days. But, no one explained why this was happening? It came as a shock,” said Rosalin, resident of a city slum.According to National Family Health Survey (2015-2016), only 47.4 per cent of women in Odisha, aged between 15 to 24 years use hygienic methods of protection during their periods.