Menstruation is a big taboo in many places and regions in India. That also includes Rajasthan. Beliefs about impurity, myths about the ill effects of being in the presence of a menstruating women, and many rigid social practices make menstruation an undesirable entity in women’s daily lives. On top of it, there is a lack of proper hygiene and precautions, making it a really arduous affair.
To combat this to an extent, the government of Rajasthan is planning to distribute sanitary napkins in the government schools of the state. According to Rajendra Rathore, Minister for medical and health, the sanitary napkins will be given to over 16 lakh girls between the ages of 14 and 19, whose families are categorized as below poverty line (BPL).
The project logistics are in place and it will be implemented soon. The plan is to make these sanitary napkins available to the local primary health centers, who will pass it on to the school authorities. The school administration will then distribute the napkins to the girls.
This is a necessary administrative step because in the local belief system and traditions, at times the women is not allowed entry into the house. If she is allowed, she lives in complete seclusion with meager resources, including food, utensils and her bedding. She is not allowed to touch things and people, lest she pollute them. As a part of local traditions, people also use cloth or cotton to soak up the menstrual blood and reuse it at times post washing.
However, this step ensures that women cannot be called dirty during menstruation because sanitary napkins take care of most hygiene issues. Also, it will prevent a whole lot of medical issues that develop due to the ill practices women are forced to follow during menstruation because of a lack of resources.
But the administration understands that only providing resources is not sufficient.So they plan to rope in a few NGOs for awareness programs and workshops for the girls in the later phase of the initiative.