Menstrual leaves have become an ongoing topic of discourse now. At a time when a debate rages on about the need to provide menstrual leave, records show that a government school in Kerala has been permitting the female students leaves since the year 1912.
According to a report by The Times Of India, the Government Girls School in Tripunithura, located in the erstwhile princely state of Cochin (present Ernakulam district), had allowed students to take ‘period leave’ during the time of their annual examination and permitted them to write it later.
According to the book “Kerala In The 19th Century”, written by historian P Bhaskaranunni, who was also the head teacher of the school had approached the higher-ups and requested granting of leave to girl students and teachers.
The book also stated that 300 days of attendance was compulsory for the students to take part in the annual examinations, as per the then education laws.
“Tests were conducted regularly, and it was necessary for students to appear for the tests. But, it had become an issue in Tripunithura girls school where students and women teachers would not come during the time of menstruation,” the book said. The book is considered an authentic study on various characteristics of the state during the 19th and early 20th century.
On 19 January 1912, V P Vishwanatha Iyer, the school headmaster had approached the school inspector in Thrissur and put forth a proposition before him, in the view of the frequent absence of women teachers and students.
The authorities took a favourable decision, and a new policy was introduced by the Director of Education on 24 January 1912. The policy stated that the students who were not able to write their annual exams owing to menstruation should be allowed to write it on another occasion.
It is interesting to note that the headteacher, who belonged to an upper-class community, had approached the authorities to grant period leave to his students at a time when the subject was a taboo.
Over a century later, this new finding helps the period leave case extensively since Congress legislator K S Sabarinathan has been urging the state Assembly to consider granting menstrual leave to its employees.
Sabarinathan observed that the state government should consider the matter positively as several countries were already allowing menstrual leave to women employees.
Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan had assured that the government would formulate a common stand on granting menstrual leave to female employees. He said, “Women suffer from various physical difficulties during the time of menstruation. Now, debates on period leave are coming up. Serious debates should happen on the matter considering menstruation as a biological process.”
As quoted by NDTV, It caused a serious debate in the whole country recently when two Mumbai-based companies and a Malayalam television channel introduced leaves on the first day of the period to its employees.
CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat had recently pitched for legal backing to menstrual leave for women employees and had opined that an employer was legally bound to make such a concession for women employees.
The topic of periods is still taboo even in the present era of modern technology. The Logical Indian urges people take a cue and try to understand the circumstance here instead of shooting down the idea in every respect.