Respected Health Minister of Rajasthan
I Alisha Mordhaya a resident of Vaishali Nagar, Jaipur, want to bring your attention towards a very delicate issue that is, ‘Menstrual Hygiene’.
Menstrual Hygiene Management means to ensure that women and adolescent girls have access to proper sanitation, proper material required including sanitary pads or menstrual cups etc., and a private and clean space for changing them whenever needed without delay during menstruation.
Besides, it needs a great level of awareness among the people of our country where Menstruation act as a big taboo.
Menstrual Hygiene is important
• to reduce the risk of Urinary Tract Infection
• to prevent rashes in Genital area
• to ensure good productive health
• to minimize risk of cervical cancer
In common, Menstrual Hygiene Management is very important to reduce the risk of death causing diseases among women and adolescent girls.
‘India Today’ in an article published on Menstrual Hygiene in June, 2019 detailed some of the facts
•Around the world, one in three girls face inadequate sanitation, and many others face social and cultural limits during their periods.
•A report by Dasara suggests that nearly 23 million girls drop out of school annually due to lack of proper menstrual hygiene management facilities.
•According to a report published by WaterAid, illness related to a lack of water , basic sanitation and hygiene were responsible for the deaths of almost 800,000 women around the world in a single year making it the fifth biggest killer of women behind heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
These data when heard or read, leaves a schoking experience on people and also shows an ignored and a sad reality of the society.
Before writing the letter, I tried conducting survey to know the actual problems that girls and women face during menstruation, but I did not get the positive response as they were really embarrassed to write their names and answer the questions that I asked, so I chose to talk to them in private spaces.
And I realised that, Menstruation act as a big taboo in our society and this is one of the major problems of our society as girls and women do not want to talk about such issues and this acts as an obstacle to their awareness about such an important issue.
Shopkeepers while giving the sanitary pads choose to pack in it newspaper before, this shows how even purchasing of pads is a shameful activity for girls.
There are few more problems that I found after taking to them –
•A large section of women in our community who belong to lower income group families use cloth instead of sanitary pads during menstruation.
• Girls tend to ignore if any rashes or unease occur in their genital area. (Beacause of lack of awareness and no openness in the families).
The central government made sanitary pads tax-free in India. The government scrapped its 12% tax on the feminine hygiene products, after months of campaigning by activists. It is very appreciative on the part of the government, but there are few more steps that can be taken at the state level in order to make women(mainly in rural areas) aware and people sensitive about this issue.
I have some suggestions which can be considered to provide better Menstrual Hygiene management –
1.Organising of Weekly Camps, which should be open to all including the Male members of the society that focus upon major methods for hygiene management like-
•Change pad in the period of every four hours
•Keep Vaginal Area clean
•Never Use two pads simultaneously,etc.
2.Organising of ‘Awareness Rallies’ in order to remove the taboo associated with menstruation. This will make Menstrual Hygiene an important topic of discussion among people irrespective of their genders.
3.Distribution of free sanitary pads to the ladies who can not afford them.
4.Easy access to Public Toilets that should be properly cleaned.
5. Easy availability of clean water, soaps , dustbins and other required products in public toilets.
6. Sessions about Menstrual Hygiene Management in schools, colleges and other such institutions should be made compulsory.
(Boys and men should also be included in the discussions and informed about such a sensitive issue).
7.There should be ‘awareness advertisements’ about the same on Television, Radio and also on various social media.
(Girls can know about Menstruation and the ways to deal with it before they get their first period).
Despite having so many women in position of political leadership, Menstrual Hygiene has remained an ignored and an unheard topic till today.
The lack of seriousness and awareness on this very delicate issue is a matter of great concern not just for women but for the whole society as women are mothers, sisters, wives and daughters and if anything affects them, it will affect the whole family and also the progress of the society as women are known to be the base or the creator of society.
We are writing to you in the hope that you will ponder over this issue and work on priority basis to implement some measures detailed above.