This post is a part of the weekend blogging contest at BlogAdda.com in association with 18again.com
My family was never one of those who'd reach out for the remote when a "Whisper" or "Stayfree" advertisement was aired; even if it was done, it never seemed purposeful. As far as my memory serves me, I never knew what it was about and never really cared to ask anyone for a long time of my childhood.
I do have an opinion on the topic though. I do not think that there is an impending need for us to "speak out" on this topic at our homes. Awareness is always a good thing and unfortunately one of the things which are never enough. So, I do not claim that India is completely aware of sanitary pads and other women's health products and that there is no need to advertise, I just want that it should be done in a way that does not embarrass the girl child.
Male members of the family are not suited to join these discussions where common "lady problems" are discussed. This is the kind of knowledge that should be passed on from the gynaecologist to the mother and from the mother to daughters. It needn't be hushed and if there are health-related issues, they must be resolved. The females should know what is normal and what is not and they should be able to report any health related issue to both mother and father. This confidence can only come from proper channeling of knowledge.
Since these are sensitive topics and it is ok to want to discuss them privately, I do not advocate discussing them, talking about them when the whole family is in attendance. There again it depends on the rapport and chemistry among family members. A good family environment full of humour and confidence in each other can help building the confidence. Confidence is all that is needed here.
I, myself being a healthcare professional, think that the responsibility is shared between the female members of the family and the health-care professionals of the society. The doctors need to carry out camps in remote areas and other such outreach programmes where these issues can be addressed. Pamphlets in newspapers, magazines, advertisements on Television. The information must be shared and there should be encouragement and motivation to share it with others.
If a problem is presented in all its gravity, the need to shove it down people's throats slowly erodes. It should be made known that it is an issue, a sensitive one at that and must be handled with care. Shoving this information mechanically down the society's throat is not going to do us any good.
The problem that is in front of us cannot be tackled in the way we have tackled AIDS, HIV infection and other such taboo topics. The stigma here is much deep rooted in the psyche and is most of the times associated with a lot of shame and guilt. We need to fight the guilt and shame and also the disease. In cases of AIDS, the guilt and social stigma needs to eradicated completely whilst in this case, we need to handle the subjects all the more sensitively and with care. They are minds which haven't fully grown and need education, not instructions.