BENGALURU: Karnataka and Maharashtra have the highest menstrual health and hygiene management-related myths among below poverty line (BPL) families, showed a recent survey report by the Unesco.
“Few communities in Karnataka still follow the practice of isolating women. They are treated like untouchables and not even allowed to eat with other family members, let alone stay inside the house,” Samagra Shikshana Karnataka, Project Director, BB Cauvery said.
The Unesco and Procter and Gamble (P&G) Whisper’s #KeepGirlsinSchool campaign titled “Spotlight Red”, which started in 2019 surveyed six states - Karnataka, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and the Union Territory of Delhi.
Of the total 1,800 people surveyed, 33 per cent of the boys from rural Karnataka had strong misconceptions. A regression analysis revealed that caste is an important determinant in the level of myths and misconceptions. “Women continue to be barred from temples, touch religious offerings, not enter inside the kitchens or puja rooms at home,” Dr Huma Masood, Gender Specialist at Unesco, said. The findings showed that several schemes and initiatives taken by the government have not helped in eliminating the taboo associated with menstruation.
Karnataka’s Shuchi Scheme aimed at distributing sanitary pads to girls was also stopped in 2020 and has not been revived since, the report pointed out. The state government has given multiple reasons like poor quality of pads and departmental transfers for non-implementation of the scheme. It is high time that women should start talking about periods, experts said, adding there is a need for general acceptance among all genders as it is the only way menstrual health landscape can be revolutionised in India.