A Netflix documentary Period. End of sentence, on the menstruation taboo in rural India has won a well-deserved Oscar Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
The story is set in the Kathikhera village in Hapur district of Uttar Pradesh in India, where a local group of women is using a newly-installed machine to make and sell sanitary pads, raising awareness and fighting the stigma that surrounds menstruation in the local community.
Directed by 25-year-old Iranian-American director Rayka Zehtabchi, the film is a take on the taboos around menstruation that still exist in India’s hinterlands. It portrays the sheer obliviousness of the women about sanitary hygiene during menstruation, leading to their reluctance to use products such as sanitary pads.
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Shot mostly on hand-held cameras and adopting a conversational narrative, the film juxtaposes people’s ignorance of the biological phenomena and the women’s drive to alleviate the stigma, even though hesitantly, when a pad-making machine is set up in the village.
A social experiment transcends into a revolution when women – who had never even heard of sanitary napkins – are not only apprised of its benefits but start producing them in bulk and selling them at minimal prices, salvaging the opportunity of self-empowerment. The women, now enthusiastic with a drive to enterprise, name their brand FLY.
In her acceptance speech, Zehtabchi said: “I’m not crying because I’m on my period or anything. I can’t believe a film on menstruation won an Oscar.” To film producer Guneet Monga, she said, “Guneet Monga – know that you have been empowering women all over the world to fight for menstrual equality.”