Trisha Maharaj, MA alumna, and Inga Winkler have published a new paper titled: ‘You don’t just do it because someone else said so’: Menstrual practices and women’s agency in the Hindu diaspora of Trinidad.
Menstruation matters. And for many it is deeply imbued with socio-cultural meaning and embedded in religious practices. While the current dominant narrative presents menstrual practices as restrictions and often characterizes Hindu women as the oppressed victims of their religion, we seek to complicate this oversimplified narrative. We explore women’s motivations, choices and decisions related to menstrual practices in the Hindu-Trinidadian diaspora. Our findings indicate that the women we interviewed exercise agency in the cognitive, emotional, religious and socio-cultural spheres. Many of them value or accept menstrual practices as part of what it means to be a Hindu woman—motivated by religious observance and/or the desire to be part of a community that upholds tradition. These varied manifestations of women’s agency challenge the understanding of menstrual practices as necessarily-and-always oppressive and call for acknowledging the nuance and complexity of women’s lives.