Blood Speaks: A Ritual of Exile is a transmedia activism project that reveals the social, emotional and physical consequences of normalised violence against women perpetrated under the guise of tradition.
“Even the Goddess of knowledge, wealth and power are all females. If they can all live inside the template, why can’t we?”
The origin of this violence is the impurity of a woman's menstrual blood. Hidden, under reported and unresolved, these women are untouchable. Perpetrated under the guise of tradition, this violence takes the form of ‘exiles’ which keeps menstruation shrouded in mystery and taboo, a weapon to shame women into subservience.
Menstrual exile directly impacts on the development of girls and most of the major sustainable development goals. Such untouchability underpins issues such as child marriage, attitudes to reproductive health, maternal mortality and leads to girls dropping out of school.
This is one of the most brutal and degrading human rights violations to women. During this menstrual exile women are often abused, bitten by snakes, raped and even murdered.
Every two minutes a girl dies because she does not have access to clean water or proper sanitation.
Key facts on menstruation
Globally, every day, around 288 million women are on their period. Yet one in three don’t have a toilet to use during menstruation.
On an average, a woman menstruates for about 7 years during their lifetime.
No one talks about why teenage girls drop out of school when they start their periods, which is often because there are no toilets. This silence prevents debate about the importance of toilets and water facilities in schools. Men and boys need to be part of the conversation too, to ensure real change happens.
Girls are absent from school on an average of 60 days a year as a result of menstruation.
Menstrual exile sits at the heart of a complex web of patriarchy, interlinking issues of class, caste and gender.
One in five women and girls, including 19 per cent of women and girls aged 15 to 49, have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner with the last 12 months. Yet, 49 countries have no laws that specifically protect women from such violence.
Globally, 750 million women and girls were married before the age of 18 and at least 200 million women and girls in 30 countries have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
In 18 countries, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working; in 39 countries, daughters and sons do not have equal inheritance rights; and 49 countries lack laws protecting women from domestic violence.