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Girls & Women

One Talented Nepali Teenager Has Written a Novel to Break the Taboo Around Periods

By Yosola Olorunshola|

Ever since she started her period, 15 year old Prakriti Kandel has been told that menstruation is a problem. But she's a natural rebel and never accepted this as truth. 

In a recent story by NPR, she shares the experiences that inspired her to write a novel that is sure to empower girls across the world. In Prakriti’s world, periods are a superpower, rather than a source of shame.

Raised in the capital city of Kathmandu, Prakriti has always been close to her parents. But when she started her period, she felt her childhood freedom start to fade as new household rules set in. 

Every month while she is menstruating, she is not allowed to touch any of her family members, or eat at the same time as them, or even enter the kitchen. Used to feeling carefree at home, Prakriti often forgets these rules and fights regularly with her mother and grandmother over all the confusing instructions. 

Once, when her father fell sick and was hospitalised, a priest told Prakriti she was responsible for the illness because she had touched her father while on her period.  

This was a turning point in Prakriti’s outlook. Refusing to accept this superstition, she sat down to study the biology of menstruation and how cultures around the world treat periods. Her research led to an empowering conclusion: 

 "Menstruation is not a taboo, but a power for women."

She was so compelled by the need to change attitudes towards periods that she decided to write her novel, Imposter, a story set in a society where menstruation gives women superpowers. 

As someone who has started to write several abandoned novels, I admire (and envy) anyone who manages to finish such a gargantuan task. Especially if they are 15 years old. I recently discovered a draft of a novel that I began when I was 18 buried under my bed, and quickly shoved it back where I found it. I’ve not read Prakriti’s story, but its premise sounds far more convincing than my thinly-veiled autobiography ever did. 

Prakriti’s perspective is more necessary than ever, beyond the borders of Nepali culture. Just this week, MPs in the UK voted against a cut to the so-called ‘tampon tax’ - the VAT added to sanitary items because the EU considers them to be ‘non-essential’ products. 

Anyone who has ever had a period knows that tampons, sanitary pads, mooncups and the like are not a monthly indulgence. At that time of the month, they are pretty essential - for comfort, hygiene, and simply for continuing life as normal. Men’s razors, expensive meats like crocodile (if you can afford this, you can afford VAT) and edible cake decorations are considered essential by the EU and therefore exempt from the tax, whilst sanitary items are not. Even in societies that consider themselves progressive, women are still not free to menstruate.

That’s why I’m grateful for people like Prakriti who bravely and creatively defy social norms, rewriting the story of menstruation for girls everywhere. From Kathmandu to London, no girl should ever feel like her period is a burden. 

Someone please give this budding author a book deal now. 

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