The lack of side in English is one of the reasons that I was very interested in Murganantham story aside from Menstruation. The British left our country a long time ago, but perhaps they haven’t left our heads which is why intelligence in India is still determined by how well we speak their language. Murganantham is not only the first man to wear a sanitary pad – Yes, imagine that! Or the inventor of the low-cost sanitary pad machine, but he is also a man who barely speaks English. He went from being a drop out to an innovator and he is been featured in the Time Magazine as one of the 100 most Influential people in this world.
To me, he is an example that intelligence is not constrained within the boundaries of any particular language or even a formal mechanism of a form of education- and I was fascinated by any of the interviews that I used to see trolling in TV.
I stumbled upon his story when I thought that before I watch Padman let me read something more to it- and this immediately gripped me,because there was a man who was so worried to see his wife using unhygienic rags instead of sanitary pads. Reason- they could not afford it. He decided that he is going to make an affordable sanitary pad. None of the women in his village were willing to help him test out these pads. So, he had no recost but to test it out himself. And how did he do that…
He constructed an artificial boom of socks, took a rubber bladder and filled it with pigs blood, attached it to a pipe that led between his legs, put a sanitary pad there and pulled his pants up over this contraption and went cycling around his village. In very little time he was ostracized from his village, his wife got fed up of his obsession with pads and divorced him –but he persevered. After many years not only did he make a low cost viable sanitary pad but he also invested the low-cost sanitary pad machine which today he sells to women’s groups and NGO’s so that not only do they have an access to the sanitary pads but they also can earn a livelihood.
Every time I read his story, I feel like persuading him relentlessly. We talk about women’s empowerment but 20% of school girls in India drop out ones they start menstruating. I get reminded of a headline that I read in a news paper where a school girl was pulled out by her teacher because she was stained with menstrual blood- she didn’t drop out of school. She went back home, jumped out of her balcony and committed suicide.
And that is the level of shame and embarrassment around a simple biological function. !!!
Only 12% of women in India have access to affordable sanitary pads, the rest are using rags, leaves, and straw which leads to diseases of reproductive tract and that links to cervical cancer. Initially, I thought that period poverty was perhaps the problem in my country but Plan International Uk has found that ¼ th girls in UK miss school because they don’t have hygiene products. They are using substitutes like rolled up socks, cut up tee shirts instead of sanitary pads.
Imagine there is a 12% tax applicable on sanitary pads but brooms are tax-free because apparently there is more important to keep your house clean than your body.
I think all women should move to Canada- you get taxfree tampons – what all does a woman need. All countries want to be strong – for that, you need to make a women strong. This is the global issue.
For me, Padman is not a movie but a movement where women are not held back by her biology.