Menstruation is still a taboo in the Netherlands, and that’s why

When you read the word “menstruation,” what do you think? Many boys (and men) in our country have a “dirty” association with this and point out that they find the situation filthy, shameful, and sometimes disgusting. Plan International has done research on this. The results of deep-seated taboos and the shame surrounding menstruation are painful. An honest blood study on the shame of the menstrual cycle.

The study was conducted on 4,127 boys and men between the ages of 15 and 24 years. The boys and men came from Brazil, Indonesia, Uganda, and certainly the Netherlands as well. The study was conducted in the run-up to Menstrual Health Day (May 28). On this day we pay attention to the discussion of menstruation.

Menstrual shame

All over the world there are women and girls who are menstruating. Not less than two billion each month. Isn’t the topic of conversation popular? Well, that’s not the case. more than a third The survey showed that males (37 per cent) believe that menstruation is something you should keep a secret.

The ruling was justified by the fact that “menstruation is a private matter for girls and women.” Phrases like this make us feel period shyness (ashamed of your period). This can have serious consequences for the well-being and performance of girls in school.

Other conclusions from the menstruation study:

  • Boys associate menstruation with “dirty” (55 percent), “embarrassing” (31 percent) and “disgusting” (38 percent). But they also consider them “natural” (95 percent) and “healthy” (85 percent). In the Netherlands, the rate of “dirty” opinion is 37 percent.
  • 37% of boys think their periods should be kept secret.
  • Nearly a quarter of boys say they don’t know about their menstrual cycle.
  • More than two-thirds of boys report that they have heard boys or men make ugly and negative comments about their menstrual cycle. 25 per cent of those comments in the Netherlands come from male teachers.
  • Buying sanitary pads or going to the bathroom with them is embarrassing for girls. About 29 percent and 41 percent of boys and men think so.
  • More than half of Dutch boys have never bought sanitary pads or tampons.
  • A large group of Indonesian boys and young men believe that girls and women cannot go to school/work or a place of worship during menstruation.
  • 55 per cent of Ugandan boys and men do not think it is acceptable for a girl to remain unmarried after her first period.

Fortunately, there is a positive result: 92 percent of boys want to normalize the menstrual cycle. This can be done through better information in school (72 percent), conversations with their parents (69 percent) and through the media (64 percent).

Serious blood problems

Not much is said about the health of the menstrual cycle. As a result, millions of girls miss school a few days each month. This is due to shame, bullying, lack of sanitary towels (not available or expensive) and decent sanitation. Sometimes girls drop out of school altogether.

You can also see this in the workplace. Women are more likely to relate to illness than to talk to their supervisor about fatigue and heavy menstruation. Nor do they ring the bell on time with GPs. We see this all over the world and therefore also in the Netherlands. It perpetuates gender inequality.

Discuss the menstrual cycle

“The research shows that boys in nearly all four countries have the same opinion of menstruation, with the difference that the consequences for girls in a country like Uganda are more serious.” So said Masha Singling, a menstrual health expert at Plan International. It talks about girls formally from their early life who are automatically ready to marry and have children.

Boys indicate that they want to break taboos, but are unconsciously contributing to maintaining discriminatory norms. Discussing menstruation is a matter for everyone. Women and men,” says the expert. Plan International believes that girls and women should be able to decide for themselves about their sexual and reproductive health. They want to get rid of the shame of menstruation.

Plan International actively engages boys and men on this topic. Girls and boys, teachers and parents receive information about their menstrual cycle and Plan International provides training in making reusable sanitary towels. They are also pushing to make menstrual health a standard part of the school curriculum. All kinds of steps to remove this taboo.

Leave your period in the Netherlands only after the taboo is removed: ‘Involve men in this ‘female thing’

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Menstruation is still a taboo in the Netherlands, and here’s why: ‘dirty, embarrassing, and even disgusting’

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