★ ★ ★ ★
You might not know it, but last year’s winner of Best Documentary Short Subject at the Oscars is available on Netflix. Period. End of a Sentence is an informative and inspiring short that I am glad I finally watched. Period explores the taboo surrounding menstruation in a poor region in the Hapur district of India. This stigma prevails in some form across the globe but it was clear from watching Period, that it is heightened in the most deprived areas of the world. Women in Hapur have been taught to be ashamed of their periods; their discomfort discussing menstruation is very apparent. They do not go to the temple nor are they encouraged to pray during their periods as they are told their prayers will not be heard. Education about menstruation is very poor too. In a separate interview with a group of men, one person from the group calls a period an “illness.” Some are not even sure what it is.
What Period does excellently is show clearly that this stigma and ignorance surrounding menstruation is closely related to the prevalence of patriarchy and misogyny. Pads are not affordable to these women so typically they would only use cloths. These cloths are difficult to clean and change at school and so many girls drop out early because it is too challenging to attend. Due to their lack of education, it is difficult for them to get well paying jobs. Conveniently, their only option is to become financially dependent on men.
Of course there is resistance to this. One woman called Sneba says that she hopes to join the police force because that way, she can escape marriage. In fact, Sneba is involved in a pad making business – another important focus of the short. Using a machine, a group of women in the region are able to make sanitary towels that are cheaper and of a better quality than those you would find in a store. It is thrilling to watch the women selling their business idea to others. The women offer the possibility of further education and opportunities to their customers while their business affords themselves financial independence. We are even informed at the end of the short that the money Sneba earned through the business allowed her to attend a police academy.
This short opened my eyes to how fortunate I am and how something as natural and simple as a period can be a serious obstacle for women in poverty.
Brigid Molloy – Film & TV Editor