I interviewed these four young women outside a shrine in the city centre of Multan. I explained I was researching a book on menstruation and wanted to ask them some questions. They were very friendly at first and suggested I take a photo of them. They said they were willing to share openly. They told me they were homeless and lived in the back yard of the shrine.
However, after a few minutes they became very uneasy and stopped talking. I realised we were being watched by the men who worked in the kiosks in the car park of the shrine and that the women felt that by talking to me, the men thought their “honour” was being threatened. I understood that them telling me, a complete stranger, about their bodies and entrusting me with the personal details of their lives could have negative consequences for them.
I ended the conversation as quickly as I could. I know the women will probably never read this book. I am indebted to them for whatever they shared and allowing me to use their photograph. They helped shaped my understanding of menstruation in yet another context. Their interview is included in Period Matters and their plight moved me to write Hot Mango Chutney Sauce.