Haryana: Winds of change blowing

Haryana: Winds of change blowing

Haryana: Winds of change blowing

Fancy taglines and those one-liner punch lines are now almost quintessential to a display picture on your profile, be it on Facebook, WhatsApp or any other social media platform. For youngsters addicted to this medium, it's much in vogue. How about something on the same platform that everyone is not doing or not even talking about it, at least not openly.

Well, here what men in Haryana, many in the hinterland, are up to on the social platform. They are taking the lead to talk about menstruation! Periods, pads and more. They are suffixing "pad man" with pride with their name and display pictures.

Hundreds have joined the campaign. Haryana's Miss World 2017 Manushi Chhillar too is lending support to the avant-garde initiative. "I am a pad man" with profile pictures has become a hit tagline.

Inspiration comes from Akshay Kumar starrer Bollywood flick Pad Man due for release next month. Pad Man is a reel life story that narrates a man's unflinching resolve to help women in India come out of the taboo attached to their monthly cycle of menstruation. In Jat land, a real life story with the same mission is unfolding fast.

Dozens of villages in Jind, Gurugram and parts of rural Haryana have joined in the "I am pad man" campaign, not just to dispel myths of menstruation to help women, but to talk about it without any inhibition or shame.

Village headmen are being groomed to don the new avatar as pad men. A thunderous dialogue through live chats, WhatsApp groups, where hundreds of men and women shun the inhibition of periods and discuss the matter candidly, is gaining momentum by the day through this campaign.

Over 200 men have suffixed the words "pad man" with their name and profile picture.

The seeds of change are sprouting, says Sunil Jaglan, the man behind this sustained campaign. Jaglan, a former sarpanch of village Bibipur in Haryana, is credited for several social initiatives, including the "Selfie with Daughter" campaign that even drew applause from Prime Minister Narendra Modi during one of his 'Maan ki Baat' programmes some time back.

Talking to DH, Sunil Jaglan said women, especially in rural areas, suffer both on hygiene and psychological complexes, during periods. Sanitary napkins aren't the norm in villages, he said, adding that the problem is compounded when it's considered a taboo in most parts, especially by men and the village elderly. "So the change has to come from men.

The stereotype has to break. Our initiative is to involve youngsters, men and others to come forward to help women and girls. It starts from man talking about it at home with his wife and daughters," Jaglan said.

The initiative attempts to build a task force that, among the other things, comprises village representatives who will perform the role as a Pad man. "Small things like carrying sanitary napkins in black plastic bags to conceal pads, as if something illegal, needs to be given up. There should be no inhibition and no shame to carry a pad from a supermarket or a chemist to home," he said.

Aklimpur village sarpanch Anand says he has joined the campaign and regular meetings are being held in the area to spread the objectives. Jaglan's foundation is setting up all-woman libraries under the name "Lado" in the state. These libraries are run and visited only by women.

He says books and articles on the subject of menstruation have been requisitioned at these libraries to offer women an advantage.

Attempting a transformation on this issue was hard in Jat land--a state which has a skewed sex ratio. Here, Khaps rule the roost. Honour killings hog media attention. Jaglan says the challenges are enormous, but a beginning had to be made. The process, he says, may take time but its impact eventually will be lasting.

Age-old stigma

Elsewhere in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, a more or less similar campaign is attempting to unshackle the age-old stigma that comes along with menstruation.

It's shocking but true. In close to 90 villages in tourist destination of Kullu, women in sizable numbers are ostracised to cattle sheds during the days of menstruation. It's a practice that has been going on for decades.

Here, a woman is considered "impure" and she is kept away from the house, kitchen, worship places and other areas. Women in many areas in these villages suffer from psychological degradation on account of such practice that continues unabated.

Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus Khan is spearheading a campaign with a vow to end this practice of ostracising women, both mentally and physically, during periods.

Members of various communities, social and religious organisations are being roped in to square the circle.

Incidentally, Khan was conferred with the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Innovation in Governance award in Delhi on January 20 for effective service of Rohtang permit allocation to benefit ecology.

Khan along with his IPS officer wife Anjum Ara, hogged limelight when they decided to "adopt" the 12-year-old daughter of an Army jawan who was beheaded by Pakistan in the Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir on May 1. They are now bearing the daughter's expenses from school till marriage with a promise of a good future.

 

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