Period. End of Sentence - Our Review
The Oscars this year was a riot of colour, of diversity and change. The most notable winner of the night was, to me, the Best Documentary (Short), awarded to “Period. End of a Sentence.”
A documentary about a small village in rural North India, Period.. documents the lives of the women, most of whom haven't even heard of a pad. The documentary is just above twenty-five minutes long, but strikes a chord in the heart to last a lifetime. Produced by a group of students from Los Angeles who had heard that women who got their period in rural India were forced to quit school, the documentary was filmed by raising funding of $3000 through bake-sales and junkyard-sales.
Period starts with the film crew interviewing schoolgirls and young women, some of whom are mothers. They are asked if they know what a “period” is. Most of them do, but are too shy, too embarrassed to elaborate. When the men are asked, their first reaction is to associate periods with class hours, and then with “an illness that mostly affects women”.
This sets the context for the rest of the film, showing us just how far the stigma around menstruation goes.
In this small village, when a girl gets her period, she cannot continue her education any longer. They cannot afford pads, and so have to use rags or waste cloth, which get soaked fast, and which are dangerous to use. They are forced to stay at home, and are usually married off in a year or so.
Among these women is one named Sneha, who's goal in life is to work in the Delhi Police Force. She wants to escape the clutches of marriage and the forced domestic life she would be resigned to. Along with a few other women, helped by the producers of the film, set out to change the stigma around menstruation.
With the help of “Pad Man” Arunachalam Muruganantham, the women set up a low-cost machine that makes pads. The women are taught to stuff raw material into the compressors, paste adhesives and produce hand-made pads. They make well above 18,000 pads and decide to sell them under the brandname “Fly”.
They travel around their district, demonstrating how their pads work better at soaking than existing pads in the market, and how theirs is a cheaper, more superior alternative.
The women are a revolution in themselves.
The character development we witness over the course of the film is not only awe-inspiring but also inspirational. The men, who initially thought the women were involved in making diapers for children, involve themselves in making pads by the end. Young mothers who sat behind the screens of suppression, now have a source of income and the respect of their husbands.
The documentary is a must watch for everyone. It will help bring awareness, and it will certainly make you admire these women.