In the rural, remote parts of Jharkhand, where awareness and quality menstrual hygiene products had just started to make an impact, the progress has taken a backseat thanks to the current crisis. Amid a countrywide lockdown, imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus, availability of sanitary pads, napkins, and other menstrual hygiene products have become scarce in these far-off, Naxal-overrun pockets of the state.
And in some places, sanitary pads are not accessible at all, forcing young girls in this region to once again resort to unhygienic means such as leaves, rags and hay.
“We can sacrifice other things, but periods don’t stop because of a pandemic. Since our school is closed, we haven't been provided sanitary pads and thus we are constrained to use cloth this month,” Shanti was quoted by a news site.
A student of Class IX, of a government school in Godda, Jharkhand, Shanti is one among the many adolescent girls in these areas, who in the light of the lockdown and resultant shutting of schools and shops, is left with no other option than compromising on her personal hygiene.
Her plight is echoed by Rashmi Tiwari, a member of the local Ahaan Foundation. She told another media outlet, “Ration is patriarchal as well. It is being provided keeping men’s needs in mind, not women.”
“Women [in Jharkhand] go to work in the farms, do household chores, there is no potable water so they have to go and fetch that as well. Periods won’t stop in lockdown, it will happen,” she added.
Ahaan Foundation strives to work with girls at the risk of human trafficking in the state. Even though the NGO and several other local organisations have come forward to make access to menstrual hygiene products easier in these times, the truth is it’s still a pain point.
Taking note of growing concern regarding availability of Sanitary Napkins, Home Secretary to Government of India has issued clarification to Chief Secretaries of all the states regarding Sanitary Pads being an essential commodity. pic.twitter.com/V2mj4fHjW3
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) March 29, 2020
While the government is going the extra mile to procure daily essentials like food, oil etc, somehow, sanitary pads have not made it to the list in some areas, adding to the plight in the middle on an ongoing crisis.