This incredible documentary short, directed by Rayka Zehtabchi, is about tackling the taboos around menstruation in rural India. This film was taking subject matter, which is so normal in western countries, and putting it into perspective in countries like India where when you're on your period, you are to distance yourself from everyone and everything and isolate yourself until it's over.
You learn that there are girls who consider dropping out of school once they start getting their period because it takes a toll on them and is even somewhat humiliating, for them, hiding from society is the only way to be accepted.
People in Hapur, India are far from educated on what menstruation is, especially the men. There is a scene where guys are being interviewed and they literally have no clue what periods are and that they were ever a thing, all they knew was that once a month, the girls in their family would leave for a couple days and come back, not knowing the reason behind the leave.
In this part of India, there is no access to pads or any sanitary ways of dealing with your period.
Instead, they use things that are far from sanitary and can cause major discomfort. A group of female high school students from North Hollywood came up with the Pad Project. This project was to raise money for pad machines to be built and placed all over places who don't have feminine hygiene products beginning with India as seen in the film. The arrival of the pad machines are captured in the film and women are taught how to use them, package them, and market them, selling them all over small shops in the streets.
Due to the fear of the men shutting this effort down, they were told that it was a machine to make diapers for children. Women were taught how to use them and soon enough, the pad machines were up and running and women were hearing about pads and were eager to try out this product.
This documentary short is so eye-opening.
It really makes you think about how in some countries, women are made to believe that getting your period is actually an illness and that the only way to deal with it is to be secluded and to attempt to be clean with rags that barely soak anything up. I can't imagine how uncomfortable that would be.
What really stood out to me was a scene that was shot in a classroom where the teacher asks the students if they knew what menstruation was. A girl stands up looking absolutely terrified, and the shot is only about thirty seconds long. I read in an interview with Zehtabchi and Refinery29 that that shot was actually three minutes and that the girl was just as petrified and looked as if she was about to faint.
The Pad Project is offering efforts to open up the conversation and to reassure women that it is OK to talk about periods.