A bunch of girls and young ladies have gathered in a cemented house of the village. Nobody is aware of the reason of this assembly but the camera is definitely giving them a feeling of excitement and fear at the same time. Some have smiles plastered on their faces while others are hesistant in making any move. The camera rolls, the interrogation starts and a person asks: Will you tell me?
Girls ask hesitantly, “About what?”.
Girls start giggling and rolling their eyes, brushing away the question in the air.Thus, begins the documentary “Period. The end of sentence”- a short film directed by Rayka Zehtabchi.
Streaming live now on Netflix, the documentary is an initiative by “The Pad Project”. The Pad Project is a non- profit project with the aim of spreading awareness about periods around the world. With the motive that “A period should end the sentence and should not be the reason of the end of a girl’s education”, this project is standing strong in busting the stigma around menstruation.
The project set up by a Los Angeles based teacher, Melissa Burton in 2012 is now growing exponetially with a group of students and staffs from USA getting involved in such a brilliant initiative.It was inspired by the efforts of Arunachalam Muruganantham- the pad man of India, who invented a machine for making biodegradable pads after learning that his wife was using scraps of clothing to soak up her period blood instead of expensive sanitary products. So, in a similar manner The Pad Project is setting up easy to use pad- making machines in the rural villages of India.
Set up in Hapur, a village 60 km from Delhi, the 25- minute short documentary is enough to break the long standing silence that has engulfed our country since decades. The main protagonist are the women, hiding behind the curtains refusing to play their part in the movie, because the role they are told to play makes them shameful and uneasy about themselves. But, after some time, they start trusting the camera and talk more freely about what they feel about ‘Periods’.
Firstly, referring to the ‘Periods’ as this or that, as if taking its name will bring any sort of disgrace to them, talking of it as a bad blood and prejudices attached to its name. The teachers in the village are clever enough to skip the chapter on menstruation, because who really cares? When men are asked they either laugh or act dumb. Those who are aware of it have titled it as an “illness”. Everybody is singing a monotonous song of ignorance.
An easy- to- use pad making machine is set up in the village and many women have joined hands in working together. Sneha, one of the girls in the village, is one of the misfits, who doesn’t hesitate in speaking against the hopeless thinking of the people. She thinks these beliefs are useless and she aims at becoming a police officer in Delhi Police. The machine set up has sparked hope in her. Getting married and giving up on her dreams is not in her cards at all. Just like Sneha, other girls Rekha, Suman and many other women also get the opportunity to bring their problems and beliefs in limelight. All of them aspire to be more confident in saying what they feel. They crave for good sanitation facilities and an environment where people can talk more freely about ‘Periods’.
While, the village women have joined hands to learn to make biodegradable pads which they name as Fly, the men are still sceptic about what is really going on, they think that a machine is set up for making nappies for the babies, what more can we expect?.
Sneha, being a bold one has taken the task of marketing and distributing these pads from home to home. The money they are earning from selling is giving them a sense of confidence and satisfaction. The ladies are seen flaunting their hard earned money. It will take time and patience but everybody is realizing the importance of using pads during periods. Eventually, men are also trying to be more aware of the issue and they are shown as learning to make pads from the machine.
Within a short interval, the Academy award-winning documentary is doing a great job in turning the tables and creating a cultural shift. It not only just talks about female menstruation but also, how by taking pride in our periods can a woman be able to feel more uplifted, confident and satisfied about herself. This has added a new perspective in the thinking of the people. As a matter of fact only a small percent of the women in India are really using sanitary pads and certainly there is a long way to go to reach the goal. And its not just the problem about India but many developing countries around the world where due to periods women give up on their dreams and education.
The documentary is not just India’s victory at Oscars but also of all the women. People should definitely watch this documentary in order to get more aware and evolved in their thinking about “Periods”. It’s raw and unfiltered, it will make you question and think differently, watch this gem that is streaming now live on Netflix.
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