Published: 13th April 2017
Let's talk, period! Here's how this 19-year-old boy's initiative is spreading awareness about menstruation among school students
Through The Red Cycle, Arjun Unnikrishnan and his team of 25 volunteers create forums of discussions in schools and colleges across Kerala to spread awareness about menstruation and menstrual health
Why is menstruation such a hush-hush topic in India? Why is there so much taboo around this natural biological process? Why are sanitary napkins wrapped in a black polythene bag at the store?
These are some of the questions that plagued 19-year-old Arjun Unnikrishnan. But instead of sitting back and doing nothing, he came up with a creative solution to the problem – he set up platforms where people could discuss menstruation to help others understand that it’s just a biological process. Hence, The Red Cycle, a menstruation awareness campaign that addresses the different facets of menstruation was conceived two years ago.
Through The Red Cycle, Arjun and his friends conduct awareness classes and discussions in schools. But what’s special about this campaign in particular? While in most sessions boys and girls are isolated, the youngsters at The Red Cycle ensure that they sit together and receive the appropriate education on the subject.
We want to create platforms for discussions to break the barrier that the taboo has created. A huge gender issue can also be tackled through these discussions,
Arjun Unnikrishnan, Founder, The Red Cycle
“Menstruation is a regular biological process that has been red-taped by the society. This process is being used to ridiculously suppress women. No one ever asks you to not visit a temple or not touch pickle after attending nature’s call. Shouldn’t the same apply to menstruation?” wonders Arjun, who is a law student at JSS Law College, Mysuru .
Arjun has a team of 25 volunteers from different walks of life who help him run the campaign successfully. Walking down memory lane, he remembers the first session that he conducted with the help of one of his teacher. “The session wasn’t great as I didn’t know what to say. I made a mess in the name of trying to create a huge impact on the society,” he recalls. Later, preparing himself through research and utilising the help of a few medical students, Arjun and his team have conducted successful sessions in schools and colleges.
Arjun is drawn to the criticism more than the compliments. People were curious about his sexuality, sexual orientation and vested interests. “People have unabashedly asked me why I, a man, talk about menstruation. While boys don’t understand the need for this session, girls are embarrassed to listen to this subject in front of the boys. But this has to change if we want to evolve,” he says.
Arjun knows that The Red Cycle is not where his career lies, but as someone responsible, he knows that this is his bit to bring about a change. He is currently looking for more organised ways to create awareness. And as always, he has his enthusiastic team for support.