For years in Bangladesh, girls or ladies cannot even dream of going to the shop to buy sanitary pads for their periods because it was thought to be a matter of shame and females talking to an unknown male person even if he is the shopkeeper it was considered to be a shameless act. Television advertisements started promoting sanitary napkins just a few years ago. However, those advertisements also used to have some stereotypical things like girls feeling uncomfortable, cannot talk to anyone openly, asking help from females only to tell someone to bring a sanitary pad to her, etc. There were no advertisements or anything regarding the hygiene of menstruation, using sanitary pads, and males used to avoid these topics as they felt uncomfortable, they were not ready to accept that this is a natural process and there is nothing to be shameful about it, and they are still not ready. Advertisements nowadays in Bangladesh are trying to be open about this matter, but the people are still not ready to accept it, and they start protesting to stop these advertisements. This paper contains information on how advertisements on menstrual hygiene are necessary to break all the negative stereotypes regarding the periods of the girls because it is important to know the importance of menstrual hygiene in Bangladesh.
Menstruation is a natural and normal biological process, but in Bangladesh’s societies, menstruation is accompanied by various taboos. That is why a vast number of adolescent girls are not aware of this menstruation process before their periods and menstrual hygiene (Eymoon, Poly, Zaman). Though girls can get much information in this age of social media, they first need to know about the process. There are some parts regarding this in the academic books of the national curriculum of Bangladesh, but that is from class six; girls nowadays can face periods when they are reading in class five or even four due to various factors. And as the world is dependent on technologies more so, instead of just adding in books, there should be some television commercial in Bangladesh that will prove the menstruation’s information.
We can hardly find any of the advertisements, or it can be said that there are no advertisements in Bangladesh which will say what period is exactly, how and why girls face it, what type of steps should be taken by them after this happens. There are now advertisements regarding sanitary napkins but not the fact I described. For a longer time, the girls did not have any idea how harmful it was to use clothes instead of pads during menstruation as there were no advertisements on this (Mohammed). Even after the T.V. advertisements were made, people were not aware, but slowly, it started to gain attention when the number of T.V.s increased. People started to understand the usefulness of pads, the necessity of cleanliness during periods, or even a lot of problems that may occur during periods, leading to harmful diseases. So there is a significant role of T.V. advertisements in shaping up people’s knowledge regarding menstruation, creating awareness among the parents and girls both, but still, there are not enough advertisements regarding all the facts related to menstruation and menstrual hygiene. The general people should also give space to the media to represent the matter open to everyone, not with the stereotypical ideas mentioned.
I have collected all the information from the television commercials made in Bangladesh since the ’90s. Before this year, there was hardly any advertisement on this topic, and also I have used the information from various secondary sources like articles, newspapers, Etc. Findings and Analysis: It is a matter of great pity that still in 2020, the brands of periods or brands of sanitary napkins face “backlash” for daring to open up a conversation or showing something openly related to menstruation. (Watson). This has been said based on the context of the whole world’s television advertisement on this topic. We know that in the contemporary world, the cities are displaced by technologies of speed and power, but in the case of Bangladesh and some other countries, the lifestyle has changed, but the people’s mentality is still the same as before. Women were always treated as a dominant class, so there was menstruation. For years the ads of periods used to represent that people should discredit the flow of periods as something to be ashamed of (Watson).
It was based on the average report of most countries in the world. Periods are still taboo for most people in our country and the media of our country. For example, some days before, it was 2020 when I saw an advertisement for sanitary pads. The ad’s content was that a girl is in a bad mood, her brother was asking about it, she did not say anything to her brother, then her brother asked her, and she shared about her periods. Her brother then brought the five sanitary pads of that particular brand on which the advertisement was made. There were some voice-over lines, “Start to think and open up about it….” I was amazed and happy after I saw this advertisement. The advertisement was of the “square” brand’s sanitary napkin. But after some days, I saw the news that people had boycotted the square and started to protest to stop this particular advertisement because a huge group of people think that this type of advertisement is defending the rules of Islam, which is not true at all. Even they started writing on social media that this must be kept secret; it is a shameful topic.
Girls should never talk to their fathers or brothers regarding this. And they should always remain silent if they face any problems like extreme pain or body ache Etc. They should keep silent and keep working because this has been happening for many years. And thus, the advertisement was stopped on television and other media. I searched many websites to add a bit of proof to my story regarding this. I could not find anything regarding that advertisement. So the negative stereotypes among people are bounding the media to be vocalized regarding this in our country. Freedom of speech is there for everyone, and there is also freedom of the press. Freedom of expression is essential to understand society’s diversity and differing perspectives (Khatun, Abir, Rahman, et al.). As this is for everyone, the media should also get this freedom, but they should not use it to represent the negative stereotype or make advertisements that support these negative stereotypes. Menstrual products like pads were first inaugurated in the 1990s in Bangladesh (Eymoon, Poly, Zaman).
The advertisements of this product were telecasted after many days of arriving at the sanitary pads because the advertising companies were not ready to telecast these types of ads. But it was seen that though there was no television in every house at the beginning of ninety’s, still, a significant impact of the ad was seen, and girls started using pads refusing cotton, clothes, Etc., which were very harmful to the vagina. Now almost seventy percent of girls are using pads in Bangladesh because they got the idea from the advertisements of sanitary pads. A joint initiative taken by Water-Aid and The Daily Star did a survey and wrote an article based on that survey. The article discussed problems faced by the girls or women working in different country sectors. One of the female garment workers said that she used light garments during her menstruation.
These clothes are filthy and unhygienic, but as her supervisor is a male person, she said she could never share the problems with him, and she has to work with pain. This is the scenario in our country. Most people, especially males, do not give the female space to talk to them regarding menstruation. The advertisements of the sanitary pads have already broken some of the taboos, but not much. One thing is clear that advertisements have greatly impacted the people regarding this matter from 1990 to 2020, but there are fewer advertisements on menstrual hygiene. The stereotype of giving menstrual hygiene and problems as less important is present in 2020 too. And also the practice of keeping it just within females. The male should also have the ideas and information about this matter because men and women live in the society. Women deserve support during periods, and if a male is not aware of the pains that a girl or woman faces during periods, they never would know why they should support females during periods. Advertisements on these matters are rarely found in our country. They always do the T.V. commercials to sell sanitary pads; they do not add some piece of advice or hygiene-related content. They should come out of the negative stereotype by showing that a girl is silently facing the uncomfortable situation alone. Most of Senora, Whisper Etc. advertisements, sanitary napkins show the same content.
It is difficult to change the concept or mentality of the people who have been carrying negative stereotypes for a long time, but steps should be taken, which should be a bold step. As we know that people are very active in social media nowadays, it is great that social media has created a space to discuss menstruation and menstrual hygiene (Davidge) openly. It is seen that people in our country, especially women, have now started to open up because they are watching other countries opening up, sharing their problems regarding this important topic, and they are getting solutions. Social media plays a vital role here by breaking the taboos, stigma Etc. In Bangladesh, teenagers are not being allowed by their parents to use social media, and most girls get the initial ideas of periods by watching the sanitary napkins advertisements on television (Eymoon, Poly, Zaman). That means these advertisements are essential for the girls and women, most people who live in rural areas. In Bangladesh, girls suffer from menstrual hygiene problems; coming out from the typical sanitary napkin ads, there must be advertisements on menstrual hygiene. Through these people would be more aware. Again there are lots of taboos regarding the food habits during periods. In villages, even in cities, girls are not given to eat protein during their cycle because, according to those “self-learned, knowledgeable” people, protein intake is harmful to health during periods, increasing the flow of blood, which is a myth (Nahar).
These myths or negative stereotypes cannot be completely removed if advertisements are not made in a good number. Globalization has made the world small; people from one another are connected through media to a great extent. PCOC and PCOS are some very complicated problems which are regarding periods. I asked one of my nephews reading in class six about these two terms, who had just got her periods some days before. She said that she had never heard these terms before or anything regarding these. There is not a single advertisement I got made on these diseases regarding periods for the awareness of the girls. I knew about PCOC and PCOS from a short advertisement made by the USA, and I saw it on social media; before that, I did not have any idea regarding this topic. This can give us a realization that advertisements should be more regarding these topics than sanitary pads. The negative stereotypes of remaining silent about the issues girls face during periods and also the menstrual hygiene should be broken. The media of Bangladesh should break these taboos and misconceptions by making advertisements on menstrual hygiene, menstrual diseases Etc.
It is seen that people in Bangladesh could not come out of the taboos of hiding and remaining silent about periods or menstrual problems. People in our country still think that this is a complete female issue, and only females should know about this, which is a stereotype. Male should equally understand these matters because females cannot always get females to share their problems. Boys in school taunt girls if they see a red patch on their school uniform; they keep laughing because they have learned from their childhood that it is a shameful thing for girls, they should keep it hidden always. The T.V. advertisements are very necessary to make the girls aware and the boys. Media (T.V. advertisements) played a vital role in history and transformed using clothes in periods to using sanitary napkins. Now it is high time the advertisement companies made some content on opening up regarding periods, menstrual hygiene, diseases like PCOC, PCOS, Etc. And also on the support that the female deserves from her family, including brother, father, and husbands.
Advertisements should be made breaking stereotypes, that a girl should have the space to share this issue with anyone and not necessarily with just any female member of the family.
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