Jharkhand: In the age of artificial intelligence, a lot of people still continue to live with taboos and superstitions attached to menstruation. Aditi Gupta’s family was one of them. During her menstruation cycles, she was not allowed to sit on someone’s bed, go in the prayer rooms or eat pickles etc. Aditi did not like to be restricted from doing activities she liked, so departing from this ancient thinking, she created ‘Menstrupedia Comic’.

Who is Aditi Gupta?

Aditi is a resident of Garhwa, Jharkhand. She pursued her graduation in engineering from Hindustan College of Science and Technology and earned a post-graduate degree in New Media Design from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. Aditi’s father is an advocate, and her mother is a professor of Hindi language and literature. 

Her father was always dedicated to give her and her siblings the best education.  Aditi’s brother and sister-in-law are also law graduates and work as advocates. Aditi’s name has been mentioned in BBC’s 100 Most Powerful Women of India. In the year 2014, she was also listed in the Forbes India 30 Under 30 list. 

The first experience

Aditi shares that when she 12 years old, she met with an accident due to which she was confined to her bed for a very long period. Her immobility prevented her from going to the washrooms on her own, so her parents took care of all her needs. During a surgical procedure, the doctor had inserted a catheter in her urinary tract, which resulted in bleeding within a day. At that moment, Aditi’s mother had assumed that she had started her periods, and it was then that her mother first explained about menstruation to Aditi. 

When Aditi experienced her first menstruation cycle at the age of 12, she was made to adhere to the same customs and traditions that are common in many households. She could only take a bath after 7 days, was prohibited from entering prayer rooms, couldn’t consume pickles and had to wash her clothes separately. She had to wash the bedsheets herself regardless of whether they were stained or not. 

Adopting healthier changes

It was after Aditi completed her class 12th, that she came to know about the existence of sanitary pads. Before that she had been using cloth pads. At that time, even though her family could not afford them, there was a sense of hesitation and shame around buying sanitary pads. 

During her college days, she was exposed to an open-minded lifestyle. She had an open discussion about menstruation for the first time in her life. Despite being a science student, she had never known much about menstruation. 

The idea of Menstrupedia Comics

Aditi Gupta met her husband, Tuhin Pal at NID. Tuhin had little knowledge about menstruation, but he was curious and wanted to learn more about periods after hearing about Aditi’s experiences. Aditi and Tuhin did their research together and came to the conclusion of creating a comic on these issues. 

They learned about the unwillingness of parents to have these discussions with their children. The teachers also often find it challenging to address the topics related to periods. This realization inspired Aditi to make Menstrupedia Comics. 

She did her extensive research by talking to various people and learning about their experiences. She wished to make a safe space for girls to release their frustration and find comfort in reading comics about these issues. 

Characters from the comic

There are four characters in Aditi’s comics, Priya, Pinky, Jiya and Meera. Through conversations between these characters, information regarding exercising during periods, how to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), when to change pads, and the medicines to be used was conveyed. 

Furthermore, Aditi created a website and launched a question-answer forum. People liked the concept, and the platform observed a number of questions and concerns related to the discussions of periods. After this, Aditi made her comic available to the audience.

Financial problems

One of the problems that Aditi and Tupin faced in the pursuit of their endeavour was related to the finances. They made contacts with sponsors, but the investors doubted its potential success. After completing the project in 2012, Aditi turned to crowdfunding in the year 2013. The initial target was set at Rs 5 lakh, but the funds she received from the campaign surpassed this goal. Today, Aditi’s comic is available in 17 languages all around the world. In India, the comic is a part of school syllabus in 25 thousand schools. 

Aditi is aware of the fact that menstruation is a sensitive topic and requires more discussions. Aditi herself is a mother of two kids. She authored a book titled ‘Adi and Akku’ which educates children about the concepts of good touch and bad touch. Currently, the book is available in English. 

Moreover, Aditi has also written a book called ‘Golu’ which addresses the topics of puberty for young boys. Her works reflect her commitment to providing valuable information to children on important subjects.