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An Open Letter To The UGC And CJI On Pending Pad Machines In Colleges

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This post is a part of Periodपाठ, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC to highlight the need for better menstrual hygiene management in India. Click here to find out more.

Credits: The Indian Express

Respected authorities,

These are difficult times and in the ongoing pandemic, the UGC (University Grants Commission) is determined to conduct final year examinations with the logic that a new session cannot begin without the final exams of the previous session or by giving the excuse of the academic rules.

But what needs a mention is that the UGC, which is so determined to follow the rules, has ignored its own guidelines which were issued way back in 2017 which instructed all the higher academic institutions across the country install pad vending machines and incinerators in the campus.

If the status of the same rules is enquired, we would get the expected result; i.e. the rules exist only on papers. Punjab University and Tamil Nadu NLU are some of the few exceptions here as they have functional pad vending machines and incinerators installed in their campus.

This letter is to ask the Honourable Chief Justice of India to take cognizance of these rules as Right to Health is guaranteed to all Indian citizens under the right to life and personal liberty. Menstrual health is an important part of the overall health of a female which the higher academic institutions fail to take cognizance of. Accessibility to menstrual products and their disposal is yet another important subdomain of Menstrual Health.

Also, we have the right to a clean environment which is again violated by non-compliance to the guidelines on menstrual hygiene, specifically for the disposal of menstrual waste. Article 15 of the Indian constitution provides for Right to Equality and that no citizen shall be discriminated on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. But ignoring menstrual health is a violation of this right as inaccessibility to period products can affect the education of the menstruators. Why should menstruators suffer for something which is entirely biological and a natural phenomenon?

Period Poverty and inaccessibility to period products are the issues which are still not widely recognised widely in the country. As per a report by WaterAid, a pad takes around 500-800 years to get decomposed. Menstrual Awareness is something that has been ignored for far too long. While the UGC is keen on conducting final year examinations in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, what is quite paradoxical is that the same UGC is not interested in and has probably forgotten its own guidelines about the installation of pad vending machines.

Probably, the UGC believes that the rules are only for papers while the students are only for papers (exams). If these guidelines are followed, crores of menstruating students would be impacted directly in a positive manner.

Yours sincerely,

Vaibhav Gaur

A 2nd-year law student.

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