Tribal women in Adichithottil tribal colony at Malakkappara.

KOCHI: The fall in birth rate often associated with the developed West has been plaguing a tribal village located deep within the forest in central Kerala. But Adichithottil tribal colony in Malakkappara coming under the Athirappilly grama panchayat is battling the issue borne out of an entirely different reason – the use of oral contraceptives by the Adivasi women to delay their menstrual period.

According to a Health Department study, out of the 88 households in Muthuvan tribal colony, 13 were childless while 14 had only one kid. The demographic paradox was the result of a flawed practice followed by women in the colony lately to protect themselves from the dangers posed by wildlife as they are forced to fend for themselves in a green enclosure during the monthly ordeal.

As part of an age-old custom, the Muthuvan women have to spent at least 15 days every month at a secluded place called ‘Valaimapura’ in the colony during their menstruation period. ‘Valaimapura’, built using reeds and grass, is a makeshift tent erected at the corner of each compound to spent their days during the menstruation period, during which they are barred from meeting men or relatives.

However, the private rooms 

at the colony situated in the middle of an elephant pass deep within the forest are often raided by  wild animals, including elephants, which also leave them badly damaged.