Nayab Imtiaz

Nayab Imtiaz

Nayab is a dreamer who aspires to inspire. She believes in standing up for humanity and promoting tolerance.
Nayab Imtiaz

Even in 21th century talking about reproductive health and issues related to it is considered to be a taboo, because whatever is ‘’down there’’ should remain hidden because you know even talking about it is a considered to be a sin. ‘’NO one should KNOW!’’ It is not limited to only women, but women have to face the ”awkwardness” more often than men, because men are biologically different. They don’t menstruate nor do they get pregnant and therefore have no clue how painful can it get. Yes, our body actually sheds the lining of uterus (womb) during menstruation.

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One of the reasons why men are so clueless is because we never talk about it. We don’t talk about menstruation, we don’t talk about reproductive health and we sure as hell don’t talk about the ‘S’ word or anything related to ‘it’ but we do go around cursing casually using the F word. Crazy, isn’t it? I grew up in a conservative family, and you’ll be surprised at how many people can relate to it because it’s culture as a whole that we’re dealing with here. A couple months after I turned 12, my mom called me and casually she said to me, ‘’you’re growing up and your body will go through change, so if you feel something strange happening, come to me.’’ and I was really confused in a what-is-that-supposed-to-mean kinda way. A couple of months later I realized what was she actually talking about; I got my first period and I panicked, went to mom and she just handed me over a sanitary pad and I was staring at it and in my head I was like, ‘’what in the world am I supposed to do with it?’’ and she said to me, ‘’you know, how to use it, right?’’ I mean, I didn’t even know what that thing was, so I just shook my head and rest is history. It took me a couple of days to get a hang of it though and to able to sit and sleep without leaving the sheets like a little goat has been slaughtered on it (a bit exaggerated, but whatever).

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I wasn’t mentally ready and I caught a fever, and pretty much freaked out, trust me in my head I made these crazy scenarios that I’ve catch some disease and I am dying. I laugh now when I think about it, I was that naïve, but again how do you expect a 12yo to respond when this bomb drops on her head out of nowhere? A week later my mom told me to not let a man touch me the wrong way or I could get pregnant. I didn’t even know what the word, ‘pregnant’ meant back then. I was really confused, but I didn’t ask seeing discomfort and this talking-about-it-is-shameful expression on her face. I dread the day she’ll give me ‘the talk’ when I am to get married, please God haalp!

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On a serious note, menstruation has never been nice to me. I would stay in bed at least for day 1 and I would tell my mom I wasn’t well so she would respond to me, ‘’koi baat nae. Duwai kha lou. Hum ne bachay peda karnay k sath sath puray ghar bhi sambhalay huay hain,’’ and for me taking excessive painkillers every month never looked like a very wise option. I would get really cranky and crave chocolate, sugar and stuff because the body would crave it due to the loss of iron and other important nutrients. Blame women for that? PMS (Premenstrual syndrome) just makes it a hundred times worse for me. The mood swings, the depression, all the crying and being miserable… too much to handle.

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The biggest issue that I go during that one week time is how to respond to question asked by my dad or brother; ‘’tum ne namaz parh li hai?’’ The first time it happened I glanced at my mom and she would say to them on my behalf, ‘’haan parh li hai’’ or ‘’abhi parh lety hai’’ and it would make me feel really awkward. I would just go into hiding the moment I would see them around the prayer time, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable lying about it. The other question equally awkward was,‘’tumne roza kyun nae rakha?’’ and to avoid the question I would either stay hungry the entire day (and would make the cramps even more worse) or I would sneak food from kitchen, and I don’t know why but doing that made me feel like I was actually sinning.

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It instilled in my mind that talking about it shameful and gross and that it is okay to lie about it than to talk about it. And for quite some time it really troubled me that isn’t lying one of the 10 deadly sins? Talking about my biological phenomena is an even bigger sin? I never quite figured out why stuff like menstruation, sex, ED, pregnancy, menopause, breastfeeding and contraception have to be such a taboo?

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This is the reason why our women and our men are so ignorant of their own reproductive health, let alone of their partners, and trust me it brings no good. This is the very reason why our children are abused or sexually exploited because they have no clue! This is the reason why men don’t care for their wives when they’re on their period or are pregnant because they have no clue. This is the reason why people hide serious diseases like breast cancer, ovarian/prostate cancer, genital candida infections, PCOS and the list goes on – they don’t talk about it because the society said talking about it is a sin and in order to avoid the ‘sin’ they end up losing their lives and when they do, people are like, ‘’bataya kyun nae? Kyun chupai bemari?’’ Hypocritical much?

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Sorry, too late.

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