Bloody Buddy, Uterus Ninjas, Crimson Wave, My Bloody Valentine, The Red Wedding, and Mad Max Fury Road - this doesn’t even begin to cover the countless phrases in hundreds of other languages that women use to refer to their period. Yet, with all these words and phrases at our disposal, talking about your period in India is almost as bad as having your period. You know that feeling when you wish all check-out counters in the world were as efficient as those in India when you’re buying pads or condoms? We know you know. Those hands move faster than light. God forbid anyone see a woman buying sanitary products – how dare she? Students from the Calicut Medical College found that this taboo that surrounds menstruation needed to be confronted. Taking the matter into their own hands, they created a haiku campaign to end period shaming that has gone viral.
Sreya Salim, editor of the college magazine had tried to hold a discussion on the Happy To Bleed campaign, but it was futile. When Dr Karthika, a medical intern, challenged her friends from the college’s Literary Club to walk across campus with a pack of sanitary pads, and no one accepted, they knew there was something worth uncovering. James, a third year student, came up with the idea to hold a microtale contest for people to write in about their period shaming stories, or just anything to do with the subject. The campaign was set to be launched on International Women’s Day.
What started out as an intra-college competition slowly gained momentum nationwide as posts were shared extensively via social media. Entries from all over India started coming in, and the team began to compile them into individual posters that were shared on the Magazine’s Facebook page. Salim also mentions that men and women contributed to the haikus almost equally. In her opinion, the greatest thing to come out of this is that men and women are finally sharing their stories. Medical students, who would also shy away from the subject, are finally broaching the subject, out in the open. As far as their plans for the future goes, Salim said, “We have plans to promote environmentally friendly menstruation products. We are discussing how to make pads available to women who do not have easy access to them. We are also trying to study more about the health prospects of new products like menstruation cups.” A book has been published with a whole set of haikus, and they are currently working on a second book.
Scroll on to see some of the haiku posters that the team has compiled.