“As a child, I grew up loving to play outside, I was a bit of a tomboy. Slowly, fewer and fewer girls came to play. I still wanted to play, even if it was just with the boys, but my grandmother would drag me inside and tell me that girls shouldn’t be playing outside.
I started to feel isolated just because I had reached puberty. I wasn’t allowed to attend Pooja when I was on my period and it made me upset.
When my period first started, I had no idea what was happening. I didn’t know where the blood was coming from and didn’t feel like I could ask my mother. I asked my friend and she told me about periods, but I still had a lot of questions and didn’t know where to get the answers.
I thought that boys got their periods too! This is why, when the boys started teasing me about my period at school, I didn’t understand how I was different from them. The boys in my community used to ask about my “MC” (menstrual cycle) and I didn’t know what to say. I stopped going to school when I was on my period because I was embarrassed and worried about staining.
My mother gave me a cloth to use while I was on my period. She told me I should wash it and leave it to dry inside because no one should know that I was on my period. After a while, I stated itching and realised that the cloth was becoming dirty and possibly growing bacteria. Around this time, my friends told me about Myna and I went to a Sponsor a Girl session. I learnt about what a period was and found out that pads existed. Since then, I have used pads and am a lot happier because I don’t have to worry about staining. Now, when people ask me questions, I know the answers”
Azmati is now studying the Qur’an to try and find out whether the taboos associated with periods actually have any basis in her religious teachings. She wants to know the actual facts and find out which taboos and menstrual practices are justified.