Rayka Zehtabchi’s Oscar-winning Period. End of Sentence. is an appeal for change.
While hard to believe, the concept of menstruation in some parts of India is still considered taboo. In New Delhi, women of all ages have treated this big part of their femininity as something that must stay within them clueless of how to manage it. The concept of sanitary pads is even out of the picture. For a third world country, the item could be considered a luxury, if not, something that is beyond their reach, even at local pharmaceuticals.
By the moment Zahtabchi mentioned the term “menstruation” to teenage girls during an interview, the responses she gets from them are a variety of unsure, noticeably shy laughs as if they have accepted it as a form of a joke. To break this alarming stigma, a group of female natives has agreed to prepare low-cost but efficient pads from scratch to distribute to women in their community.
Period. End of Sentence., as its title suggests, is about the process of ending this particular aspect of womanhood – the doubt in acknowledging, as well as the absence of, the embracement of menstruation. It’s a powerful documentary that creates a solution, and not just narrates its existence.
It’s also worth noting that Period. End of Sentence. is swiftly paced, as if everyone is in a hurry. This sense of urgency is what powers the documentary, like an adventure movie fueled by its good intentions.
In the end, this group of women managed to sell packs of their pads to select women for the first time. Finally, the sentence has been ended for two or three women to acknowledge their menstruation, but we have a lot of ways to go.