Period stains remain stigmatized. Women and girls who bleed are often excluded, especially in rural areas. People look at the stain with disgust and laugh it off.

Ironically, I found that we don’t pay much attention to scenes where there is a lot of blood and action. We get disgusted when we see the bloodstains on female clothes from menstruation (or blood in sanitary napkins)

A social experiment reel was uploaded by an Instagram account. It shows a teenager getting her pants stained. People just looked at her and didn’t bother to tell her or help her until a girl at the end did it. She gave her a sweatshirt that she tied around her waist. Although this was probably staged, it is a common reality for many girls.

A video was made a long time ago in which boys aged 10-13 years old joked about their classmate who got a period stain. They mistook it for urine and nick-named her “acid”. This video shows how important education is about periods for all genders. It even goes before puberty hits girls and those with uterus. It doesn’t make sense for girls to be taught about periods after they have their first period. They might panic if they got it outside of their home.

My first period stain was at school. I was in sixth grade, year 2013/2014. Those years, periods were very private and no one else should know about them. My entire bench was reddened by the end of school hours. Guy behind me noticed the blood and began screaming at me. I wanted to punch him, but he didn’t. Now, when I think back, I see that it is the stigma and hush surrounding menstruation and periods, and not boys who don’t know about them. It is not possible for boys to know everything and be ignorant or sexist about periods.

We need to normalize period stains on this Menstrual Hygiene Day, 28 May, and every day thereafter. Period education is a factual explanation of what period education is, how it works, and menstrual hygiene. Both our boys and girls (and all genders) should be educated about period education before they reach puberty. Every educational institution, work place, mall, or tourist attraction should have working pad dispensers.

Periods can be very difficult. It doesn’t take uncomfortable stares to make it worse.

By Manali