Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year for Muslims. Also know as the fasting time of the year, when you need to stay away from water and food and need to pray.
And yet, during this month, there are always those 7 days that are nothing but a monthly reminder of the female uterus. But no one can talks about them, because in the end, it all comes down to period shaming.
Image via Forward Together.
Here are some of the struggles that Muslim girls face during Ramadan, owing to this particular taboo:
1. The trouble of coming up with a lie.
Every year Ramadan arrives and every year there are those seven days of the month where you are exempted from fasting. And yet, when people come to know about it, what do they ask? “Oh, you are not fasting. What is it?” Every year, you are supposed to come up with a lie. Like, this happens every year, why can’t you not stop with the questions?
2. Because you are exempted from fasting, all the chores land on your shoulders.
“Whenever these seven days of the month arrive, I’m supposed to do all the chores of the house, be it the dishes or the cleaning. They say that because I’m exempted from fasting, I must at least help the ones who are. Do they forget about the bleeding uterus inside of me?” Asks Nadia, a seventeen-year-old, whose family gives her all the chores of the house whenever she is menstruating.
3. Pretending to fast.
Not everyone gets the benefit of not fasting during these seven days. Some have to hide it from their families and then pretend that it isn’t there.
“I come from a family where periods are not openly discussed, especially with men. And so, when those days arrive, I have to hide from my family and act like it isn’t there. Thus, even though my mother exempts me from fasting, that is what I end up doing because I am not openly allowed to eat,” says Huda, an eighteen year old, who ultimately ends up fasting because she has to hang around with her little brother the whole day. “It is not a liability,” she adds, “but it is definitely something that hurts the most.”
4. To stay back and pretend to pray while everyone looks at you with questioning eyes.
It is a common fact that a girl on her periods is found unclean for praying, be it in any religion. So when she doesn’t fast or pray, obviously she is looked at with questioning eyes. Even though many know the reason why the same is happening, they still take pleasure in questioning. Like, why God, why did we have to create this superstition?
5. Sometimes, forced to fast.
Sometimes, a girl is forced to fast despite of her periods. This is a harmful thing for the health of the person because these are the few days when one needs to be well-nourished. If you take that way, then all you are left with is nothing but sickness. “I don’t fast when I’m on my period because God understands how dreadful I’m going to feel and how all I want to do is bury my face in a plate of doughnuts,” says the Radio Producer, Anisa Subedar.
Sometimes, when it is all over, we do realize that the taboo of talking about menstruation or admitting that one is on her period to guys, even when it is for educational purposes, is only because patriarchal societies devalue and censor women’s bodies. Only some aspects are fully acknowledged while the others are considered as taboos. Menstruation is a defining symbol of womanhood and it must not be shamed the way it still is.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This article is written by Ritika Chhabra, our intern.