Women’s Sexual Health and Gender Hierarchies: An Empirical Study of Menstruation in Hyderabad Slums

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Ajailiu NIUMAI, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion & Inclusive Policy, University of Hyderabad, Telangana, India, India
The issue of women’s sexual health especially menstruation is a new pertinent academic discourse. It needs to be examined from an interdisciplinary perspective. This paper is an empirical study conducted in Rasoolpura slum and Sultan Sahi slum areas in Hyderabad, Telangana, South India. The concept of ‘purity’ and ‘pollution’ using Emile Durkheim’s jargon leads to difference in the way girls and women undergo menstruation Theoretically, Freud (1962) asserts that menstrual taboos are prevalent in different forms such as controlling women, castration anxiety, and the like which is apt to understand Indian women. The aim of this study is to explore the challenges which women face in their everyday lives that limits their access to feminine hygiene products, to identify the factors associated with unhygienic disposal of sanitary napkins and it’s related health hazards. It also attempts to study the level of freedom of choice that women enjoy with regard to their sexual health. Purposive sampling, interview and case study methods were employed. Research reveals that 23% of school going girls in India ‘drop out’ permanently when they begin to menstruate owing to lack of feminine hygiene, particularly sanitation facilities in schools. The girls who drop out of school lack skills for life and tend to search for their livelihood as bonded laborers, housemaids, nannies, sale girls and also become victims of child marriage and trafficking. Due to lack of proper sexual health care, women and girls lose their chance of education, economic empowerment and are unable to negotiate for freedom in patriarchal society.