If you are an educated, urban Indian woman, your access to health services must be on par with the best in any developing country. But it would not be surprising if you are unaware of many aspects of your health and sexuality. This is because many womens health issues have been wrapped up in India under traditional taboos and modesty. The repository of traditional knowledge on womens health, passed on through women within the family and community, has to adapt itself to medical advancements and the changing position of women in Indian society.
Here is a sample of some areas of darkness in an Indian woman regarding her health.
- In many homes an adolescent girl is expected to observe pollution (be in some form of isolation) during menstruation. But she is rarely told about why menstruation occurs, and what its implications are.
- At the time of marriage many women do not know about what birth control options are available to them.
- Quite often women bear guilt for not being able to have a child or not being able to bear a male child. The family rarely feels that the man may be responsible. A greater percentage of men are reluctant to undergo tests to determine if the problem rests with them.
- Only in the last four or five decades has longevity of women increased for us to look at menopausal problems in any depth.
There are many more situations a woman or a girl has to grapple with through a miasma of ignorance, confusing traditional practices and beliefs. This section spells out health facts for a woman, relevant to various stages in her life.