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A poster for the upcoming film 'Padman,' starring Bollywood icon Akshay Kumar.
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Girls & Women

This Country Reportedly Banned a Romantic Comedy About Periods

This past weekend, a film with an unexpected protagonist hit the screens in India and more than 50 other countries around the world. Called “Padman,” the film highlighted what can sometimes be a taboo subject in south Asia: periods. Its hero delivers sanitary pads to low-income women across India. 

Now, members of a film review board in Pakistan are reportedly saying that the film should not be allowed to be screened in the country, according to the Express Tribune

“In such circumstances, we cannot allow a film whose name, subject and story are not acceptable yet in our society,” a senior member of the Punjab Film Censor Board said, according to the Tribune

Take Action: Call On World Leaders to Prioritize Menstrual Hygiene For Girls’ Education Because #ItsBloodyTime

According to reports, the censor board did not give the film a non-objection certificate (NOC), which would allow the film to be shown in theaters, after members of the board “flat-out refused” to watch the film. 

Two days later, Pakistan censor board chief Mobashir Hasan refuted the report on Twitter, saying the film had not yet been previewed by the board. 

According to Hasan, the censor board would base its decision to grant an NOC to the film “on the merit and criteria of the [Central Board of Film Censors]” and not the “vexatious, false, and irresponsible political motives being created on various media platforms.” 

Read More: Why This Star Wears a Sanitary Pad in a New Bollywood Film

The film, which tells the true story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, who supplies sanitary pads to low-income women and girls in 4,500 villages and 19 countries, has struck a chord in India and Pakistan, where menstruation continues to be a taboo subject. 

These taboos can lead to adverse health and educational consequences for girls.

According to UN Women, 6% of girls in India are not aware of the existence of sanitary pads, and an additional 20% of adolescent girls drop out of school because they lack access to sanitary facilities. 

In Pakistan, an estimated four in five women and girls don’t properly manage their periods, according to Afshan Bhatti, a representative for the Real Medicine Foundation, a nonprofit that works on health in the country.

Read More: Malala Really Wants You to See This Inspiring Film About Periods

“Padman,” which stars Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, has made its way around the world, with Pakistani education activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai even screening it at Oxford University

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With the news that the film had been banned in Pakistan, actresses Sanam Saeed and Armeena Khan spoke out in favor of the film. 

“Periods. What’s the big deal people?” Khan wrote. “The entire female population gets them including mother, sisters and daughters. They are as natural as the changing of the seasons. Let’s not make a big deal out of it. No need to ban films. They happen. Period.” 

Period stigmas not only lead to films being banned, but are also the reason 113 million girls in India, and one in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa, are at-risk of dropping out of school, according to the World Bank. When adolescent girls fail to complete their education, it can have society-wide implications, as girls have more children, with fewer economic prospects to provide for them; experience worse health outcomes; and see an increased risk of sexual violence. 

So-called ‘period shaming’ has even been shown to exacerbate the cycle of poverty

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and gender equality is goal number five. You can join us and call on world leaders to prioritize menstrual hygiene management so girls can access a full education here