“Pregnancy preventive pills, dispensed freely for years as a measure to keep birth rates down and the country’s morale up, has claimed many more lives—literally and figuratively—in Idukki, the district with the second largest tribal population in Kerala…
Reason – The tribe has an age old tradition of keeping menstruating women in Valaymapura, a gloomy little outpost on the outskirts of the settlement. It is almost as bad as being in prison – is decrepit and untidy, lacks water and other basic facilities, and the food there is awful… To keep away from such hellish experience, the women of the tribe regularly take State-distributed pills of the contraceptive Mala-D postpone menstruation, which if taken regularly in large enough dosages can play havoc with their health.”
I came across this article that caught my immediate attention. I was appalled by the plight of women in this tribe. The following factors are making the matters worst:
- The entire tribe firmly believes that women are ‘impure’ during menstruation, and if they do not follow the menstrual tradition, they will suffer the curse of a goddess.
- Though most of women are aware of grave side effects of taking Mala D regularly and in high doses, the use of Mala D to put off menses is still on.
- The local authorities, on their part, say there is little they can do about what people believe and it is not practical to intervene in their culture and traditions.
Now my questions
- When the Gov’t is well aware of its fatal effects on women’s health, why isn’t it prohibiting distribution of Mala D across the country?
- When distributing oral pills, does anyone from the health ministry actually explain the concerned party about its hazardous effects?
- Why cannot an awareness program, on menses, be undertaken by NGOs in such areas, where the people’s mindset can be broadened?
- Why do we think we cannot intervene when it comes to someones religion/custom? If a custom is abetting self destruction, why can’t the authorities intervene, and enforce amendments?