A pathbreaking anthology on the diverse experiences of menstruation in South Asia.
Menstruation, despite being a healthy and fundamental bodily process, is a topic often buried in fear and shame, and its discussion is even taboo in many societies. But a worldwide effort to bring conversations about menstruation and menstrual health into the open is now firmly underway. Period Matters carries this important endeavour forward by bringing together a breadth of perspectives from well-known figures as well as those whose voices are missing from the mainstream. Essays, artwork, stories and poems from policymakers, entrepreneurs, artists, academics, activists, as well as interviews with those at the margins, such as the homeless and those living with disabilities, explore myriad aspects of how menstruation is experienced in South Asia.
While activist Granaz Baloch narrates how she defied traditional notions of tribal honour and conducted the first-ever menstrual health workshop in Balochistan, Radha Paudel writes about her mission to have menstrual dignity acknowledged as a human right in Nepal. Shashi Tharoor relays his radical Menstrual Rights Bill which was tabled in the Lok Sabha in the Indian parliament. We hear from Erum about the challenges of getting one’s period when incarcerated, as Farzana and Chandan relate how mimicking the rituals of menstruation helps them feel more feminine as transwomen. Tishani Doshi breaks new ground with a poem about her uterus. Ayra Indrias Patras describes how some poor women in Pakistan managed their period during the Covid-19 pandemic. Aditi Gupta reflects on promoting menstrual literacy among young children across India through the Menstrupedia comic books. In a personal essay, Lisa Ray reveals how her illness triggered an early onset of menopause.
The book also showcases menstrala, or art inspired by menstruation, ranging from Rupi Kaur’s iconic photo essay, Anish Kapoor’s oil paintings, Shahzia Sikander’s neo-miniaturist art, photographs of wall murals made by young people in Jharkhand, to Sarah Naqvi’s embroidery. Amna Mawaz Khan offers a perspective through the choreography of her menstrual dance.
A collection of breathtaking scope and significance, Period Matters illustrates with power, purpose and creativity both the variances and commonalities of menstruation.
AMNA MAWAZ KHAN
AYRA INDRIAS PATRAS