We have come a long way as far as talking about menstruation and menstrual hygiene is concerned but we still have a long way to go before it can all feel normal.
Fortunately for us, with the World Health Organization constantly framing guidelines, formulating schemes, organizing seminars and lectures, and the State being kind enough to implement these in one way or the other, at least awareness of menstrual hygiene especially amongst teenagers is not an alien concept. We also have schemes for providing sanitary napkins to girls at the price of Re. 1 to Rs. 10 each, that Anganwadi workers help in implementing. This is a big step when one considers what we went through as teenagers having to ask for sanitary pads when we didn’t even know how to fine tune our monthly timings, being surprised when we got our periods in the middle of a basketball game!
I am a lawyer now and one day, when I was running from one part of the court to the other, my period decided to surprise me, just like the old basketball days- and this time unfortunately home was 8 kms away, my name was reflecting on the board as my case was called and I had an hour of arguments ahead of me! I could also see my name reflecting on the board as my case was being called and I had an hour of arguments ahead of me! The Indian in me screamed and I did some jugaad that kept me going for the court, but it marked the day that I decided that I had to do something about it. We have to have facilities for working women! Why should we be constantly forced to carry a bag or to run to shops? Why can’t we be provided with sanitary napkins on the court premises itself? And why shouldn’t all offices, hotels, petrol pumps, colleges and schools provide us with the basic need of a sanitary napkin available to us at a nominal price?
That very day I spoke to a lady who is known for her social work efforts all over the state. I discussed the idea about filing a Writ Petition in the High Court for the installation of sanitary napkin vending machines and incinerators in all public offices, all the courts, hotels, bus-stands, colleges and schools. She was ready and we filed the writ petition in her name. The Hon’ble Court has been pleased to pass some path breaking orders in this regard and we are still waiting for the State to implement these. I feel now like something is better than nothing as we managed to get one machine and incinerator installed in the High Court.
Coming back to the point of taboo and discussion, more often than not, advocates representing the State are men and it has taken me a year to explain to them how this is the need of the hour. However, I often find them mumbling when they use words like “Sanitary Napkins,”“Menstrual Hygiene” and “Menstruation” in court. I hope that till the matter is finally decided we have machines in all public offices and that the Court Room one day becomes an easier place to address matters such as these.
The orders passed in this Case are available on this website: http://184.108.40.206/casest/cis/index.php?form=case-query
CWP 2455 of 2017.
Cheers and Happy Periods!
Editor: Divya Rosaline