As Muslims around the world celebrate Ramadan, some Muslim women have taken to social media to vent about cultural attitudes that exclude menstruating girls and women from partaking in the month-long fast.
Getting your period in Ramadan really makes you feel like your missing out you know 😭 like can’t we just skip one period in the whole year.— Zeynab (@Riham_Alazazy) May 27, 2018
During Ramadan, the most sacred month of the year in the Islamic faith, those who observe the holy month fast every day from dawn until sunset. Although fasting is a central practice of Ramadan, not everyone is required to fast, including children, pregnant or nursing women, and women and girls who are menstruating.
Women and girls don’t have to participate in the fasting and prayer rituals while on their periods because they’re considered ritualistically “impure” while menstruating — but they aren’t simply excused. Instead, they are expected to make up the missed days of fasting as soon as their periods are over and they are ritually cleansed, said Faraz M. Sheikh, assistant professor with the Department of Religious Studies at the College of William and Mary, in an interview with Teen Vogue.
But on Twitter over the past few weeks, many girls and women have aired their frustrations about being excluded from Ramadan traditions.
Some said the stigma surrounding periods makes them feel “dirty” and ashamed of a totally natural bodily function during holy month.
I am sick and tired of feeling ashamed of being on my period in ramadan and OBVIOUSLY not fasting but then having to be made felt unclean and dirty. Make it stop! Allah created periods also so stop treating them so disgustingly. This aint even an unpopular opinion lol— Nashmia 🌺🌺 (@luminous__x) May 30, 2018
i swear if it was guys getting periods they wouldn’t ban eating in public during Ramadan. https://t.co/cDpZ18DSHb— fatma (@fatma1uae) May 28, 2018
I used to go to mosque & pretend I wasn’t on my period but you’re not supposed to touch the book so I’d wrap a corner of my scarf around my finger but I still felt like I was sinning. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, one of the things that turned me away from religion https://t.co/VG4AzDRBFn— Build a wall, line all the nazis up along it (@SamAmbreenSalah) May 30, 2018
Others pointed out that the stigma attached to menstruation puts women in an especially difficult position during Ramadan because they can neither join in the prayers and fasting, nor eat in public without being shamed for not observing the fasting period.
A lot of women do that anyway it’s just sad we’ve been brainwashed into thinking we should be ashamed and have to hide it— sabitch (@chubbythicc) May 30, 2018
Extremely annoyed that people are STILL making muslim women feel uncomfortable for eating during ramadan while on their periods.— Jackleen (@JayjayChook) May 30, 2018
I am super unapologetic about it around men and I refuse to feel bad or explain myself.
I've had my fair share of embarrassment and I'm over it.
i literally have to go in my room and lock my door to eat when i'm on my period during ramadan, my mom is really strict about my dad or brothers knowing, but i find that kind of stupid because it's not something i should have to hide— aspen//38 DAYS (@reallymarvel) May 30, 2018
Any man that feels uncomfortable about knowing needs to grow up https://t.co/OxuBjsryJ6— Daniel H. Raza (@dhraza) May 30, 2018
As women’s tweets about period shame during Ramadan gained online attention, many have spoken up in support of women and girls, pointing out that menstruating is a totally normal part of life.
Muslim women should not be upset for experiencing menstrual periods during Ramadan; Allah gives you the concession to not fast/pray so embrace it. Making female members of the family feel ashamed and bad is wrong and has no place in Islam.— Muhammad ibn Adam (@Mufti_Muhammad_) May 30, 2018
If you’re on your period this Ramadan, don’t despair. Remember just by you not fasting and praying, you are carrying out an act of ibadah (worship).— Nafisa / amaliah.com (@Nafisa_Bakkar) May 24, 2018
Sis take the mercy, eat your cake and everyone else’s 🍰
The fact that this is trending on twitter, just shows how arrogant and how close-minded we still are as a ummah. Bruh if I had a sister, I’d come home with food for her.— Moe Safa (@moesafa) May 30, 2018
Women should not be ashamed of periods during ramadan, it’s natural and every women should believe that,— Yaseen Ali (@ali_onlyme) May 30, 2018
While the belief that women are “impure” during their periods is a cultural one and not a strictly religious one, similar taboos surrounding menstruation exist among several other religious communities. Such attitudes toward menstruating girls and women extend to Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist traditions as well.
These beliefs prevent many women and girls around the world from fully participating in everyday life during their periods. In countries like Nepal, girls and women are isolated and confined to a hut during their periods as part of a cultural practice called “chaupadi.”
Over the years, I’ve made it a point to discuss all aspects of being a woman with the men in my life, to normalize these conversations, to overcome the shaming. It’s archaic and dangerous to put us in corners and hide us. https://t.co/aKSJqVRj5v— Fawzia Mirza (@thefawz) May 30, 2018
The social stigma surrounding periods and a lack of access to safe and affordable menstrual hygiene management resources also means that many girls miss school while menstruating. In sub-Saharan Africa, UNESCO estimates that 1 in 10 girls misses school during her period, adding up to as much as 20% of a school year.
But it’s time to put an end to these harmful attitudes toward a natural, human process. Global Citizen campaigns in support of gender equality and the elimination of discrimination in all its forms. You can take action here to tell world leaders that #ItsBloodyTime to end period stigma and ensure that girls can continue to get an education regardless of the time of the month.