The menstrual cycle, as the Urban Dictionary defines it; “a period of pure agony for a female, lasting way too long. Signs of this state include screaming at anything that moves, rolling around on the couch in pain, and spending hours with cold water and stain remover.”
Having your period for the first time is a big deal to most, it’s known as the passage from childhood to womanhood. For some cultures, it’s celebration worthy, for others it’s a shame, a stigma, something you will carry with you for the rest of your life. It’s just uterus lining, yet it holds a certain significance.
We contacted North African women from across the region to ask them about this rite of passage:
More than 60 women were contacted for this small project, but the ones featured are some of the few who agreed to speak to me about this topic. I was cursed at, reported, blocked, and even accused of being a male pervert preying on girls, for reaching out to these women.
It made me realize how much stigma the menstrual cycle represents for certain parts of the community. It makes you wonder how and why such a natural bodily function, that half of the world’s population experiences regularly in their lifetime, can be surrounded with so much shame that few are willing to talk about.
The problem is not that these women were reluctant to speak to me, the problem is that this 7shouma means that women who are having trouble with certain parts of their body are often too ashamed to seek medical attention. The problem is that there is a lot of false information being spread around in the form of old wives’ tales. The problem is that women who carry this stigma can often unknowingly endanger their lives, or the lives of others.
In a society where some of us are made to feel shame for the way our bodies function, there is often room for tragedy to strike.