Red-The Social Stigma


Radhika a chirpy teenager, enters puberty. As she was dealing with the physical changes she was hit by a tsunami of blood in her pants; life was never the same thereafter.

There was a one-hour lecture on the do’s and don’ts and  the rules and rituals to be followed, half of which were totally meaningless and could not be justified, even by her mom. The instructions were to just follow  without asking any questions.

Soon this bubbly child was sitting in a corner watching her friends play as she  had strict instructions from her mother to not be jumping and running around  ‘this time.’ Her friends constantly were trying to bring her to play with them  but embarrassed Radhika kept making lame excuses, feeling as though she  would transfer some deadly disease to her friends.

The next bout hit her just before her board exams. As she was about to go to  the temple to pray as she had done for every exam before, her mom came running after her, forbidding her to enter the temple or pray since it was ‘that
time of the month.’  In a society where we worship goddesses, Radhika, who as a child was often referred to as Lakshmi and Durga, suddenly became  impure. So the gods also know when not to bless a girl child!

The all grown up Radhika was now getting married. She was so looking  forward to a new life, a new beginning. Prakash returned from work one  evening with news that his parents were moving in with them. Prakash’s  parents were traditional but loving and Radhika liked having them around.

Soon her monthly calendar ticked. Radhika was put on the radar once again. A  new set of unheard rules followed. Now, every month Radhika was treated like  an outcast in the family. She wasn’t allowed to sit on the sofa or enter the kitchen. She had to use a separate set of utensils for eating, which were to be  washed by her separately.

Her world literally was shaken up when Prakash got home some of his  colleagues, while Radhika was menstruating.  Neither Prakash not his family had answers for his friends when they constantly asked Radhika to sit next to them. As one of them asked her for a glass of water she had to look at her  mother-in-law, who jumped up to serve them, making excuses that Radhika  was unwell.

Our Indian society is like the two headed Janus, one which tries to bring up  women and talks about empowerment and the other which pulls it down in the name of myths and traditions.

What kind of discrimination is this?

Judy Grahn says, “Menstrual blood is the only source of blood that is not traumatically induced. Yet in modern society, this is the most hidden blood, the one so rarely spoken of and almost never seen, except privately by women.”

Laksha Khanna is a 13 year old from Kolkata. Laksha is a student of Sushila Birla Girls School, Kolkata.

Originally published by



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