Surprise and even shock describes the reaction of the young women to the news that they indeed could shower and even wash their hair during their monthly period! Although I have heard similarly strange customs over the years, it is always fun to be the deliverer of the news and be in the midst of the reaction. Whether or not they will actually believe me and change an ancient habit is yet to be determined.
Last week I had the pleasure of presenting the first in a series of health workshops to the staff of a couple of organizations who reach out to women in prostitution. Participants represented projects in two neighboring cities (neither in Shenyang). In these workshops I employ a variety of creative and interactive methods such that they help teach themselves in the process. The inaugural workshop was an overview of anatomy and physiology with an emphasis on the reproductive system.
Originally I had planned an icebreaker, but in the first few minutes the spontaneous level of excitement and interaction was such that it was clearly unnecessary. The time was well-spent tackling the numerous, myriad, and quite interesting (understatement) questions presented. I also had an opportunity to share a bit about what The Good Book says about health. Because God has an interest in where we go to the bathroom and gives specific directions regarding the “dirty” functions, of course he would also care about all the other parts of our bodies – nothing is hidden, nothing is shameful.
Many of the participants are women who have themselves come out of “the business”, or “the life”. These women often come from the countryside and do not have more than a middle school education – some less than that. Understanding of basic anatomy and physiology by the average Chinese teenager is sketchy and incomplete; these girls have had only grandmother tales and myths to go on. It doesn’t really help that a “doctor on TV” told them that bathing while on their period is harmful to their health.
Empowering and equipping these women with knowledge about their bodies, how to stay healthy, and that they are each a special creation of our heavenly father is an important component in facilitating their holistic growth. Eventually, they can be the out-reachers and teachers, leading their peers to freedom.