Community Update

World Pulse Toolkits Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits are all available here.

We are especially excited to share our signature Citizen Journalism and Digital Empowerment Curriculum. Start learning today!

In India even Menstruation Can be a Crime!

An Indian actress in India was recently investigated by the Crime Branch of the Indian police and then had the state file a case against her. Her crime -- which incidentally happened more than 24 years ago, when she was a teenager, was that she had entered a temple where girls and women are not allowed. Why? Because they menstruate -- and therefore are "dirty" and they will "pollute" the temple.

Read her case here

http://genderbytes.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/is-it-a-crime-to-menstruate/

Comments

warona's picture

hey people ..... what

Dear Rita

i think the way we tend to hold onto the profession of our believes is so extreme.Jayamala is innocent,she has not created any crime.Just imagine now if the menses suprisingly occures while in church,will they take me to court for that.I think these dirty oppresive believes must stop.So that our world may be made clean.How can a woman get taken to court due to the fact that she went into the church like that,oh God forbid.No, that is not healthy for the women.

As if in my culture,a woman in those days will be taken to the kraal,a small hole will be made for her,she will sit there until her days are over.since it was blood,that blood was meant to sink into that soiled cowdung and no one could pick what was it.Also the rains will wash away such.In the recent years we have seen change,due to the fact that there is now the use of pads and other means of protection with regard to menstration.So we go any place we want.Except here and there,they are still sticking on those oppressive so called cultural ways.I mean we need adamant change.I've never heared of any of such cases around here.

No.We need to arise and speak for other women.Things must be done in a proper way.For Jamayala to be in that special time,she didnt deliberately do,God created menstrution in all women,a special gift.And we must protect this special gift.If then we allow any one to temper with us with our gift,what more of other gifts,oppression will persist.

I know many cultures have perserptions on this,but let us not fold our arms and think oh, thats India NO!

Well thanks for sharing

Best Wishes

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

Rita Banerji's picture

True!

So true Warona,

You say people think "oh that's India!" In fact in this temple the woman may not even have been menstruating the day she went. Just that she is of the age that menstruates makes her impure!!

Rita Banerji
www.ritabanerji.com

marietta64's picture

hi

that is very bad,but may be it can happen..

WILDKat's picture

Other religions and menstruation?

I am curious how other world religions respond to the spiritual practice of women while they are having their period?

~ Mayan mythology explains the origin of menstruation as a punishment for violating the social rules governing marital alliance. The menstrual blood turns into snakes and insects used in black sorcery, before the Maya moon goddess is reborn from it.
~ Most Christian denominations do not follow any specific rituals or rules related to menstruation. Some Christian denominations, including many authorities of the Eastern Orthodox Church (also known as the Russian, Ukrainian, or Greek Orthodox Church, distinct from the Roman Catholic Church), advise women not to receive communion during their menstrual period.
~The traditional Islamic interpretation of the Qur'an during menstrual period, women are excused from performing prayers and fasting. There is no restriction on their entering the mosque or even be present at religious services other than mandatory prayer service. After the period, Ghusl (a spiritual bath) is required to be able to perform prayer and fasting. - the same type of bath required of both men and women after sexual intercourse.
~In Hinduism, a woman experiencing her period cannot be part of religious ceremonies for the first 4 days of the cycle. In some areas of Nepal, the tradition of chhaupadi mandates that Hindu women be confined to a shed during menstruation and only allowed to eat dry foods, salt, and rice.
~ In Buddhism (Theravada or Hinayana) menstruation is viewed as "a natural physical excretion that women have to go through on a monthly basis, nothing more or less". However Hindu beliefs and practices have been carried over into Japanese and Thai cultures, where menstruating women are banned from attending temples
~Guru Nānak, the founder of Sikhism, condemned the practice of treating women as impure while menstruating.
~ Jainism does not permit women to cook or attend temples while menstruating.
In Japanese Shinto, the Kami spirits worshiped, would not grant wishes if you had traces of blood, dirt, or death on you. While menstruation is not entirely blood, the ancient Japanese did not know that. As a result, women who were menstruating were not allowed to visit any of the Kami shrines for the duration of their menstrual period. Today the tradition is kept somewhat alive in the belief that the shedding of the endometrial lining is a kind of death. Shintoism is no longer widely practiced but the evidence of the Kami's influence is everywhere. It is theorized that the Kami are the reason Japan is kept so clean and, in many houses, minimalistic.

United States of America partially founded for freedom of religious expression hosts a multitude of religions. Please post if you know how these Native American Religions respond to women menstruating and spiritual practice.
~ Longhouse Religion
~ Waashat Religion involves seven drummers, a salmon feast, use of eagle and swan feathers and a sacred song sung every seventh day.
~ Dreamer Religion combined Christianity with traditional Indian teachings.
~ Drum Religion
The Drum Religion includes the playing and keeping sacred drums and the passing of sacred knowledge from tribe to tribe.
~ Earth Lodge Religion
~ Ghost Dance Religion
~ Bole-Maru Religion
~ Dream Dance involves the power of dreams and visions of the dead.
~ Feather Religion where sacred eagle feathers were used in ceremonies, one of which involved ritual spinning, hence the name Waskliki for "Spinning Religion."
~ American Indian Religious Freedom Act, 1978, provides protection for tribal culture and traditional religious rights such as access to sacred sites, freedom to worship through traditional ceremony, and use and possession of sacred objects for American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, and Native Hawaiians.

~ Currently there are a myriad of Gaia worshipping groups globally which are egalitarian and celebrate all human female biological processes and even make connection with these to Earth. Some of these see human species as a fractal of larger life forms, including Earth-the planet-as a living, evolving being. Feminine leadership is prevalent and makes no distinction for the time of the month for spiritual practice.

Naturally grateful,
Kat Haber

"Know thyself." ~ Plato

Ruun Abdi's picture

Awesome!

Dearest Kat,

This is a great comment and i really really enjoyed reading it. I didn't know that much in other religions as i am a Muslim and the way you explained it is so true am amazed whether you are a Muslim or scholar who explored all the religions...

Thanks for sharing all this as i have learned today more than i knew before, never had the pleasure of exploring other religions in depth.

Warmest regards.
Ruun.

Rita Banerji's picture

Also in India

hi Kat,

In fact in India, the Tantric sects (of Hinduism) worshiped menstrual blood. There were temples where the cloth with menstrual blood of women would be put on the altar. That is why we have the photo we do on this post -- of a Goddess menstruating! These were sects that recognized the female goddesses as powerful. So ultimately even within Hinduism -- it was the male dominated sects that would ban not just menstruating women, but like this temple -- if you are of an age that menstruates you cannot visit the temple.

Rita Banerji
www.ritabanerji.com

WorldCare's picture

Natural Menstruation

The above myths described by WILDKat are most revealing. Just a sign that education is needed in each of these cultures. Not just "reading and writing", but physical and medical education too. Men have written the "rules", so men (boys) must be educated too, from young ages forward. I think that some of the religious practices of "protection" and "blessing" are quite acceptable, and contribute to the female's sense of worth; but as soon as practices harrass or constrain the female (because she menstruates), they are damaging. Changing religious ritual is not easy, but I think these very females IN those societies, can be the very ones to lead the way of change and empowerment for their sisters. How to break into the chain of links is the tricky part! How about getting some well educated men, even physicians, to initiate this action?

Rita Banerji's picture

Education alas!

hi WorldCare,

See the new comment I've made for WildKat regarding sects in India that worshiped menstrual blood.

Unfortunately, the belief is held by people across all boundaries in INdia -- even the middle and uppper educated classes!! Even women consider themselves "impure" when menstruating. But in this temple -- you don't even have to be menstruating. If you are a female of an age that menstruates you are impure! But you are dead on-- it is the women who have to stop being so passive. They have to demand change as their right to equality and freedom.

Rita Banerji
www.ritabanerji.com

WorldCare's picture

India's women and their beliefs

Hello Rita,
I admire your activism for the women of India. I should think that you need to find a model of some sort, or a written philosophy/scripture which would strongly support the women's belief in themselves. They need to latch on to something that is meaningful to THEM, so that they can CHANGE their thinking, and turn toward self esteem. I fully know that this is not simple or easy - to change eons of practices - but it has to start somewhere! I hope and hope for their path of change as the coming years go by. Peace and blessings.

Caroline Gikunda's picture

NO HUMAN IS PURE MAN/WOMAN

I am shocked i did not know that this things are still practised today, i thought the world is in a new era of awareness.All the women need to come together and compaign against this vice, we should all think of how to get to India and come up with creative strategy to reach the opinion leaders to advocate for change, the educated and learned should bring change now.The people who are well informed should be involved to reach our targets.

Men should learn that they are also unclean in many ways.NO ONE IS PURE!
I have felt sad for jayamala, i wish we can all be by her in court.

thanks

Rita Banerji's picture

Purity?

hi Caroline,

Ultimately this issue of "purity" is always a power issue in any society. Rules are made about "purity" to control groups on basis of gender in this case.

We need to recognize this as a power issue and not a moral issue. But women in India are so brain-washed by centuries of traditions that even educated women blindly believe in these ideas about their own status!

Rita Banerji
www.ritabanerji.com

Nusrat Ara's picture

Dear Rita, What irks me most

Dear Rita,

What irks me most is the attitude of women. How can someone else treat us better when we ourself think so bad about it. The change should begin with us and only then can we think of spreading it far.

Love

Nusrat

Rita Banerji's picture

thank you!

Thank you Nusrat! You have taken my words from me :-)

That is exactly what I say -- how can women let someone else tell them who they are and how they need to be?

It is the attitude of women in India that irks me most. Even the educated women!!

Rita Banerji
www.ritabanerji.com

TERESA's picture

IT IS UNFORTUNATE

GRACIOUS GOD!! poor Jayamala,

Why do they behave as if they don't know where they came from?

Were they not formed from that blood in the womb of a Woman and they stayed for (9 months they were fed through the umblical of their mothers? they all know how they came out of that womb.

This is nature, and no man should ever think or imagine that they are more clean than women they consists of that blood from women.

Lets all join hands to strongly stop, oppose the Indian (Government) Courts from persecuting jayamala. JAYAMALA IS INNOCENT!!!!

TERESA KAGECHA i would like to use the new password and email to participate in the WORLDPULSE VIEWS - COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION MOBILISING

Rita Banerji's picture

hope!

Dear Teresa,

At a time when hundreds of girls and women are killed in India -- female infanticide, dowry murders, how does this government ignore those cases and have time and resources to take up a stupid case like Jayamala's? That is the question. We hope -- the Supreme Court which still is a quite a sensible court in India -- will blow away this case. It has done in the past. But we hope they will also put out an injunction to stop the lower courts and police from pursuing such cases! We wait to see.

Rita Banerji
www.ritabanerji.com

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Really, my gosh!!!!

And so, why should anyone, for that matter, enter any temple at all? Does anyone come into being without menstruation? Who is clean, then? Motherhood is synonymous to pro-creation ... so why should religion, the source of The Creator's mandate in this world, defy His ways? Can anyone ever be conceived from a woman who does not menstruate? Oh my goodness, the worst pollution are in the outrageously distorted mindset of society's who cling to culture and tradition to keep and uphold their power!!! We are on our way to change this ... all the best to all of us ...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Rita Banerji's picture

The real issue!

You are right Emie. Strangely this temple does not care if the woman is not menstruating. If she is of an age that menstruates, then she is "unclean"!! OF an age -- can you imagine! And yes -- you have it right on. It is is to "uphold their power" -- that is why traditions are made. They are a form of power always. Indian women need to fight to take back their power. But I fear they are not fighting. They too believe what their society has taught them. I am so amazed how educated women follow these beliefs. How do we change then if even educated women don't resist?

Rita Banerji
www.ritabanerji.com

Emie Zozobrado's picture

We can change because we will!!!!

Rita, it only takes a spark to set a fire burning! We have lighted the fire ... we know deep in our hearts it's going to spread all over the world. You'll see! Those women who have embraced tradition will soon find out they have lost a lot to tradition. Sooner than later, they will join us to reclaim the power that has been denied and deprived us since time immemorial. Have faith, sister. We have started and we are on our way .... all the best...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Letters to a Better World

Letters to a Better World

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

World Pulse Launches our Inaugural Community Advisory Board!

World Pulse Launches our Inaugural Community Advisory Board!

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative