How many of you were pestered into answering why you weren’t fasting this Ramadan? Or let me rephrase the question, how many men have you come across who were oblivious to the fact that, as per Islam, women are excused from fasting and performing salah while menstruating? Sadly, there are numerous men who are absolutely clueless. The ignorance with regards to women’s health is not only shocking but truly worrying. After knit picking as to why ‘menstruation’ is an alien word for countless men, I concluded that we can blame our society’s regressive cultural norms for labeling menstruation as a taboo topic. That is when a reel of flashbacks began to flutter before my eyes.
My younger brother grew up with four women in the house – his mother and three sisters. He was 10 years old when he asked me why some women don’t always ‘fast’ or pray during the holy month of Ramadan. I, younger at the time, started blabbering in confusion as to what to say to him.
My mother, who overheard the conversation, called him, sat him down and said, “There is a time every month where girls cannot perform ‘salah’ or ‘fast’ because of certain biological reasons. Respect that and let those women be.” I couldn’t be happier that my mother made the situation simple and turned it into a life lesson for my brother. Today, he’s extremely respectful, kind and considerate when he knows why women are not performing their religious obligations during Ramadan or any other time of the year.
Coming back to the present from that past incident, it struck me! It is us, the future mothers, who are going to have to break the cycle of being ashamed to speak up about women’s health. It is our duty to educate the men in our families of natural biological processes such as menstruation. This does not mean you have to be abrasive or explicit; you can create awareness about menstruation in simple terms. After all, it’s a natural process and women’s health matter.