Weird taboos in India around menstruation are so strong that they can claim lives, or in fact, have.
A 13-year-old girl named Vijaya of Anaikkadu village in Thanjavur was killed on November 15 during cyclone Gaja after she began menstruating for the first time. A tree was uprooted and fell on the barn she was sleeping in.
She was branded as Impure
Vijaya was on her first period so she was branded as impure and made to sleep in a barn outside the house, despite clear warnings from the Meteorological department to stay safe from Cyclone Gaja.
The Class 7 student was sent out to sleep in a thatched barn behind her house as she was menstruating. When Gaja struck, a coconut tree uprooted by the winds fell on the thatched room, eventually leading to the young girl’s death.
The whole community is responsible for this death
Kavya Menon, Head for Project safe active periods, AWARE India, told The News Minute, “It is common practice for women in villages to move into a different room and to be isolated when they are menstruating… The whole community is responsible for this death and it cannot be pinned on the Gaja cyclone. Her death is a result of societal violence against women.”
Pattukottai DSP Ganesamoorthy told The News Minute that in that area, it was “tradition” to make girls who began menstruating stay in thatched huts outside their homes and then perform rituals before bringing them inside.
What’s more shocking is that the girl was supposed to stay in isolation for 16 days! The men of the house were not supposed to meet her. To accommodate her in the barn area, the cows and goats were tied outside.
Unfortunately for the girl, this cost her her life. This is a glaring example of how, in India, making sure traditions are followed takes precedence over the autonomy and safety of women.
The news comes even as neighbouring Kerala has been witnessing disturbances almost every day after a Supreme Court order said women of all ages could visit the Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta.
Ayyappa, the presiding deity of the temple, is believed to be a brahmachari(celibate) and women between the ages 10 and 50 have not been allowed inside the temple for years. Many Ayyappa devotees and RSS workers, both men and women, have been blocking roads and attacking women who try to make the pilgrimage, so much so that no woman in the age group has managed to enter the temple since the judgment.
Cyclone Gaja, which made landfall near Vedaranyam in Nagapattinam on November 16, has claimed 45 lives across the state, according to a statement released by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister on Sunday.
Don’t you think blaming the cyclonic winds alone for Vijaya’s death is wrong? Tell us in the comments section below and stay connected with Awaaznation for all updates!!