Hyderabad: A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in New Delhi by Setu Niket, an advocate, demanding that sanitary napkins be provided in schools for adolescent girls free of cost. This move has been lauded by school authorities and women activists who believe that menstrual hygiene is important.
Anjali Razdan, principal of P. Obul Reddy School, says, “I completely endorse the decision. We sponsor Alpha school, where a lot of underprivileged children study. Recently we noticed a lot of dropouts and when we contacted the school authorities, they told us that a lot of girls who had hit puberty left the school citing lack of toilet facilities. A programme like this will increase awareness about the periodic cycle and what is required for the same.”
According to a report by UNICEF India, unavailability of sanitary napkins is one of the major reasons for dropouts.
Women activists say that the fear of staining and lack of knowledge about the menstrual cycle leads to such dire actions. Sharika Nair, a women activist says, “When a girl child hits puberty, if she is not aware of what menstruation is, it can lead to a lot of panic. They are at a vulnerable age and they feel that it is humiliating if the clothes are stained. Most girls from rural areas do not even have access to sanitary napkins. Using the same cloth and pieces of sacks are normal in rural areas. By this step, more awareness will be spread about the menstruation cycle. And undoubtedly, awareness of hygiene too.”
Anita Jain, a lawyer, says, “When there are widespread protests regarding taxation on sanitary napkins, this move could clearly be the change we are looking for. It promotes a sense of equality for girls from a very young age when they are not denied basic human needs.”
Taxation on sanitary napkins with the arrival of GST has been questioned by many. Swati Vijay, a popular artist from Hyderabad has painted her opinion on the same in black at many busy spots of the city including Filmnagar. Students have been protesting in Telangana by sending sanitary napkins to Arun Jaitley, the finance minster.
Preeti Reddy, a student says, “Sanitary napkins should be provided free of cost to girls as it is hygienic and girls from poor families will have access to it. This decision must be implemented and spoken more about to remove it as a taboo.”...