It happens only in India
First it was the efforts from political bodies to impede sex-education in schools, singing the saga of “Against our culture”. Followed by; the country divided on the reservation system. Murthy pelted for the ‘Nation Anthem’ row. And; now the government wants a piece of the women civil servants menstrual cycle. Every issue did create a storm in the tea cup in its own engaging way. This is what I had to say about the latter to the BBC. However, I was a wee bit late and realized I had submitted it after the debate was closed!
Having read about the new appraisal forms, the Indian Government is requesting from the female civil servants, to reveal exhaustive details of her menstrual cycle, I second the words of Sharwari Gokhale, environment secretary in western Maharashtra state, in stating that I am grossly “gob smacked”!
It is often ironic to see the hypocritical lines between “personal” and “non-personal” drawn by the patriarchic society of India and hence the government too. This issue cannot be shunned away as just another feminism gimmick, but fends far into dealing with ones personal feelings as an individual and civilized citizen. Further it also questions the extent to which any employer can involve in employees’ lives and how BIG can big brother be?
It has been and is a common practice to undergo a gambit of medical tests before joining a company as an employee, in India as well as abroad. Believing oneself to be a healthy citizen with no adverse health dimensions that can prove detrimental to fellow employees, we undergo the rigorous tests quiet unquestioningly and ignore why is it that we are being evaluated beyond our abilities for an office cube in the multinational firm. One cannot forget the real-life based movie of ‘Philadelphia’ where ones life as an employee is ripped away because he is diseased with Aids. It cannot be far from realizing that such incidents go untold and unreported, which are pretty pertinent in today’s corporate scenario, where one hasn’t accepted diseases like Aids without looking at it as a stigma.
In such regard, a woman’s menstrual cycle is being treated by the health ministry as something beyond a natural phenomenon. It is as relevant in life like urinating or cleaning ones bowels. It is never that one is expected to elaborate details of this kind to any superior for any reason whatsoever. It leaves the arena open for further intrusions of adversely unacceptable nature. The appraisal does not clearly define the motivation behind recording vital information about one’s bodily behavior. If such imperative facets of ones life is not ones own, then we may be redefining the very meaning of ‘personal life’.
One does not arise to such situations as being of a particular gender. Therefore even this concern cannot be sidelined as a woman’s subject. It is no different from a situation if men were asked to enumerate on his testicles, for health ministry specified reasons. As lawful citizens and loyal employees one should not be humbled to live a transparent life, because the employer wants so. On such a note, I back the women civil servants in India in their quest for instilling privacy into employee life.