Today, the Supreme Court of India has issued notice to the Central government seeking response for free sanitary pads for adolescent girls in every school
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud issued notice in the petition, which also sought separate girls’ washrooms in all government, aided and residential schools. The Court also requested Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to assist it in the matter, given the importance of the issue raised.
The plea filed through Advocate Varinder Kumar Sharma stated that inadequate Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) options are a major barrier to education, with many girls dropping out of school due to lack of access to sanitation facilities, menstrual products and the stigma associated with menstruation.
The difficulties these girls face have been compounded by the fact that several educational institutions lack basic toilet facilities, it was contended.
Arguing for the petitioner, advocate Varun Thakur underlined that as per a report by Dasra, over 23 million girls drop out of school annually due to lack of proper MHM facilities.
The petition also mentioned a report by Water Aid, which says that illnesses related to lack of water, basic sanitation and hygiene were responsible for the deaths of 800,000 women around the world.
Along with the prayers for free sanitary napkins and toilets in school, another prayer was made for a three stage awareness program that –
1. Creates awareness about menstrual health and dispels the taboo surrounding it
2. Provides adequate sanitation facilities and subsidised or free sanitary products to women, especially in disadvantaged areas.
3. Ensures an efficient and sanitary manner of menstrual waste disposal.
The next date of hearing is in January 2023.