Untouchable and Impure For Being A Girl By Every Means
August 01, 2016
Anisha Kapri is from Kathmandu, Nepal. She is the first daughter of her family to gain a Master's degree. She spent 18 years of her life in Nepal until she went away for college, where she experienced a different kind of life from the the one she was accustomed to.
Nepal is one of the world's poorest countries. The majority of its population lives in rural areas. These rural areas are classified as villages. Anisha's parents are both from villages and despite the fact that her parents didn't complete their schooling, they had an understanding of what education could provide. Hence, Anisha's parents ensured that their children got the opportunities that they didn't have. They attended some of Nepal's finest schools and later attended to college.
Nepal has one of the highest rates of child marriages in the world. Over 40 percent of girls marry before the age of eighteen and when compared to boys the rate is less than 15 percentage. Regardless of the country's high rate for girls marriages as well as the pressure by locals to get married, Anisha's father did not want this for her or her sister. This factor was hard to ignore seeing that a lot of his daughter's high school friends were either already married or engaged. Regardless, a father's determination for his daughters having a better life is something that can ignite taking a stand in doing things differently.
When a girl gains an education something magical happens... A crack in a tangible surface which presents a window of opportunity for a rose to bloom. The nature of laws then become questionable for such wonders because that rose has beaten the odds and manages to become what it had set its sight on becoming.
"With my education, I believe I can stand up for myself because I know I can do it. I don't have to depend on anyone. I have the freedom to do and choose whatever it is that I want to do, like when to get married and have kids." Anisha is determined in choosing a life she wants and is set on providing an easier and better life for girls in her home country of Nepal.
Getting an education in Nepal isn't a fortunate event for everyone. Villages lack financial resources as well as proper sanitation. In addition, when it's time to choose between sons and daughters to go to school, parents normally send the sons. This is done because when a son gets married, it is traditional for him to stay with his family and bring in a wife to help with the running of her husband's household. On the other hand, when a daughter gets married she is taken away from the house she grew up in. Hence, the more sons you have, the more praises you get.
Girls are already considered not to be of much worth/value. Furthermore, when Mother Nature visits, she's seen as being impure. A girl's menstrual cycle is inevitable. Its a part of being a girl. It's a part of becoming a woman. Anisha recalls getting her period in the fifth grade and she didn't know what was happening. "I thought I was sick," she shared. In her culture, menstruation isn't talked about. It wasn't until the seventh grade before she was introduced to a sanitary napkin by her friend who had came home from abroad. Before then, she used washable cloth.
When girls need to replenish on their feminine products they go to the medical store. Once they order their sanitary napkins, it is wrapped in newspaper then put in a black bag. When asked why is this so? Anisha replied, "it's just something no one talks about."
This experience is often questionable because things seems so surreal or hard to grasp. In the US, you can find sanitary napkins out on shelves in various stores for anyone to purchase. Menstruation is being talked about in homes as well as in schools. The reality of it all is that not everywhere is like the U.S. or other developed countries and girls are the ones that have to endure most of the mistreatment.
Girls aren't educated on the facts of being a girl and what it entails with the physicality of their own body. They can't openly buy their feminine products without feeling like they are doing something wrong. On top of that, when girls get their period they are considered to be untouchable. They are classified and called "nachune." "When others hear nachune, they are aware that a girl is on her period." Girls at that time aren't allowed to go to the kitchen, do household work, go to the temple or take part in festival/festivities. They are excluded from everything. They can only look about food they are going to eat. This was what Anisha experienced and she believes that girls having their menstrual cycle shouldn't be discriminated against. As a matter a fact, there shouldn't be discrimination period. Anisha works on bringing about change in her community and families she know. She's currently working on a blog "period revolution" that will aim in changing the period conversation in Nepal.
Can you imagine enduring that kind of embarrassment? Can you imagine going through this monthly while trying to sustain/build your self-esteem? It is heartbreaking to know that something as simple as being born a girl is actually not so simple for many. She has no control over the gender she was born with and it's something that should be embraced, as well as celebrated. To be a mammal that bleeds monthly and lives to tell the tail, it adds to a girl's magical being.
Based on factors such as lack of access to sanitary napkins, lack of proper bathrooms and the biggest factor of all, poverty, Anisha is also working on a "Promise of a Cycle" initiative which plans on providing useable sanitary napkin kits and raising awareness throughout schools in Nepal. She decided to focus on schools because many girls are missing out on education when they have their periods. Schools don't have the health care centers that provide sanitary napkins when a girl is in need. Anisha hopes to create such an impact where girls won't have to miss any school and will be successful in completing their studies.
It's people like Anisha that are becoming the voice of girls everywhere that will be a part of the change that will allow girls to start experiencing a better way of life.
Why cast girls to the side when being a girl is our super power and it should be embraced? Why force guilt on us women for being born a female, when being strong is embedded in every fiber/component of our body?
"Your cycle shouldn't be a barrier preventing you from getting an education." "Periods are natural and missing school because of it prevent girls from being empowered."
Anisha has a very valid point and a plan in creating a positive change for the girls of Nepal. To learn more about her initiative follow @promiseofacycle on Instagram/Twitter.
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About The Author: Davina James