In a number of Indian communities and states, menstruating women are considered impure and become a subject of social apathy.
Most recently, a heated protest over the 400-year-old ban on women in the Shani Shingnapur temple’s inner precincts exposed this ugly truth – when menstruation emerged as the key reason for this custom.
But what this community in South India does to its women is beyond discrimination. It’s plain cruel.
The Kadu Golla community, in the Chitradurga district of Karnataka, forces women on periods to stay out of home and sometimes even village for at least three days, and allow then inside only when they are “pure”.
The women can’t carry out their daily jobs at home or mingle with people around their settlement. This unwritten rule holds for new mothers too who, in fact, end up spending upto a month outside.
The practice has been in place for a long time and, despite awareness camps organised by the state government, has continued unabated.
According to Indian Express, the community thinks that menstruating women are inauspicious, and so much that if her shadow falls on another community member, he or she has to bathe before entering own house.
Often, such women stay in single-room outhouses made of hay for the first three or even five days of their periods. After delivery, the new mother and child end up spending up to a month there.
In school, the girls sit not in the classes, but under a tree. In the cold and dark nights, they still remain out of the house. And yes, they only use public toilets.
A woman staying on a pavement outside the house recently told The Hindu that her husband was “kind enough” to drop off food.
But, if you think it can’t get worse, well, it has.
Over the years, there have been reports of women undergoing hysterectomy – a surgery to remove their uterus – to free themselves of this harsh custom.
A survey conducted by the Women and Child Development Department with the help of anganwadi workers found that 288 women in 36 Gollarahattis had undergone hysterectomy in the recent years.
Following media reports, the state women commission ordered an inquiry in 2015, but till date, there has been progress in that.
If you you wondering if the move has ever been protested by women, yes it has. But unfortunately, superstitions regarding these persist. Some women who tried to question this, gave up protest after they earned “God’s wrath”, The Hindu report said. “About five years ago, I would stay at home while menstruating. Then my daughter died and my son fell sick. That is why I am back here every month,” a woman told the paper.
Between 2008 and 2013, the BJP state government set up ‘Mahila Bhavans’ for such women. The idea never caught on as the government drew flak for “legitimising the practice”.