Menstrual Restriction: Shouldn't Discuss Under Traditional Harmful Practice in CEDAW.

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Madam Chair,

This petition asks you to take immediate action to discuss menstrual restriction as an independent article instead of under harmful traditional practices by your committee.

First, I would like to congratulate for all hard work and dedication what you made. You are the hope and inspiration for all girls and women across globe.

Here, I draw your attention on Menstrual Restriction. I am borrowing your word that half of the earth is occupying by women and each of them has to menstruate for average 8 years in their life time. It's natural mandate for women. I found as pride and power of my womanhood.

But regardless of the class, caste, religion, region, education, menstruation is associated with various interpretation of people and society across globe and manifested as taboo, stigma, bad luck, contamination, impure, dirty etc. and community has given various names. Without discussing in public, in global north, due to the impact of technology and economy, menstruation considered as natural phenomena without dialogue publicly. The girls and women are suffering with multiple layers of discrimination and violence throughout the life cycle due to practices associated with menstruation in global south.

The gravity and magnitude are more deep and severe in south Asia. For instance, girls and women in Nepal, subject to follow more than 40 types practices related to menstruation includes restrict from eating (dairy products, meat products, vegetables etc.), restrict from touching (any family members, priest, seniors, male members etc) and restrict from participation from dining table to politics. As a result, they are suffering from physical (nutritional, reproductive tract system and urinary trac system), mental illness, deprived from school (2 months in a year and eventually dropped off from school due to failing in class), deprived from economic opportunities. They are in trapped of sexual abuse, rape, early or forced marriage, domestic violence, death due to animal, snake bite, suffocation from carbon monoxide or extreme heat. Somewhere the restrictions are visible and somewhere not. Somewhere these restrictions directly related with religion, somewhere related with poverty where gender discrimination is overlapped. The rape or death e.g. death of 14 years and 19 years girls in 2017 in Nepal is becoming popular news across globe but not becoming an issue of dignity while having menstruation each month. It is because of ignorance of western experts (sorry for that) where they only see the menstruation as matter of hygiene and sanitation (ref: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/31/opinion/sunday/menstrual-periods-prejudice.html Likewise, the clean house never ever guarantees the dignity of girl and women who menstruate (http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2017-07-18/national-disgrace.html

In other side of the coin, menstrual restriction is heavily ignored in the global human right discourse since 1948 or CEDAW 1979 or SDG 2015. It is sad and shame that UN human right council declared that the menstrual restriction is key barrier for gender equality only in 2014, many external partners engage in celebration of May 28 as International Menstrual Hygiene Day but it is again missed while drafting the SDG 2030. Even the women leaders who were in UN or CEDAW never considered menstruation is everyone's issue, everywhere and matter of human right.

Let's be critical. The dignified menstruation is a holistic approach where the peace, human right, empowerment, health, education, sanitation and environment would work simultaneously. It is pre-condition for achieving SDGs of hunger, poverty, health, education and environment.

More importantly, the notion of 'POWERFUL' and 'POWERLESS' is in building about at age of  7 years old where girl hasn't had period and boy never has period. The girl started to consider herself as less value, low status than boy and couldn't go here and there, couldn't touch here and there where boy started to consider himself more value, high status, can go anywhere and do anything throughout life. Menstrual practices hit all aspects of the girls and women and it has reverse ecological effect at individual, relational, community and global level (I don't explain everything here). I encourage to follow; www.radhapaudelfoundation.blogspot.com for details.

By considering the impact of the restrictions during menstruation and its prevalence, it shouldn't be confined under the harmful traditional practices.  The most of the documents including CEDAW's reports, alternative reports and general recommendations, the word of menstruation or practice related with menstruation (e.g. Chhaupadi for Nepal's report) mentioned in couple of place by saying such as child marriage, Dowry,FGM,. Here, I am not comparing the issues with each other but menstrual practice is determining factor for all above mentioned practices (Child Marriage, Dowry) as well as beyond the any group or region or class, please follow the link to hear the voice from Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Uganda and everywhere- ref: https://www.rhsupplies.org/activities-resources/groups/newunderused-rh-technologies-caucus/menstrual-hygiene-day/

In this world, dignity is first, if any of you talks about menstruation which appeal to bring together to make this world more peace and just because each girl deserves the dignity during her period.  

Thanks for understanding.

Looking forward to hear your action soon !

 



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