Menstruation: whence the taboo?

Readers Speak/Opinion

On reading Dr RN Gopee’s article on Meghan Markle and the Myna Mahila Foundation (‘Meghan Markle’s Tikka moment’, MT 25 May 18), I asked myself when and how such a natural function as menstruation became taboo.

  1. From what I know it may have started by Moses, the Hebrew Leader, who stated:

“When a woman has a discharge of blood which is her regular discharge from her body, she shall be in impurity for seven days” and “whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening”/“And if any man lies with her and her impurity is on him, he shall be unclean seven days.” (Leviticus 15, 19; 15, 21; and 15, 24 respectively in ‘Revised Standard Version of the Bible’)

Similarly if she should discharge blood at other times, she is declared impure and the impurity is passed on to whoever and whatever has been in contact with that blood (Leviticus 15, 25).

At Leviticus 15, 28, one can read: “But it she is cleansed of her discharge, she shall count for herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean” and “on the eighth day, she shall present herself to the priest with one offering and become clean again”… to receive her husband.

Did other contemporary peoples have the same regard for menstrual blood?

How did Moses come to that teaching?

Is there something more than meets the eye?

Seven days plus seven days = fourteen days, and plus one day gives the fifteenth day.

We, moderns, know that days 14 and 15 of the menstrual cycle correspond to most women’s fertile period.

Did Moses know that? And if so, how?

Such practice by his people ensured the highest birth rate possible and considering the high infant mortality rate in desertic conditions, ensured their survival as a people.

  1. On the other hand, how many have suffered and are still suffering from the taboo?
  2. One can easily surprise what must have been Moses’ attitude and teaching concerning induced abortion.
  3. A few days ago, on seeing a Government poster about physical punishment of a child, I remembered that during the campaign for the legalisation of abortion I wrote that such legalisation would lead some people to think consciously or subconsciously, or even to say to themselves or to some others: “Si gouvernement permette touille enne piti dans ventre so mamma, qui faire empêche batte les autres enfants?” (“Qui peut plus peut moins”, was I quoting at the time).

Therein, I think, lies the root of increasing violence on children and such violence may be transferred to the child’s mother, etc. – hence domestic violence.


* Published in print edition on 8 June 2018

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.