New Delhi: A plea has been moved in the Supreme Court seeking to issue directions to governments to provide free sanitary pads to girls studying in Classes 6 to 12.
The plea has been moved by Jaya Thakur through advocates Varinder Kumar Sharma and Varun Thakur. The petitioner said that serious difficulty is faced by adolescent females between the ages of 11 and 18 years coming from poor backgrounds. "These are adolescent females who are not equipped with and are also not educated by the parents about menstruation and menstrual hygiene. The deprived economic status and illiteracy leads to prevalence of unhygienic and unhealthy practices which has serious health consequences; increases obstinacy and leads to eventual dropping out from schools," the petitioner said.
Henceforth, in the plea, the petitioner has sought to issue directions to provide the separate girl toilet in all Government, Aided and residential schools and to issue directions to provide one cleaner in all Government, Aided and residential schools to clean the toilets.
The plea also sought to issue a writ order or directions in the nature of mandamus to the Respondents to provide three-stage awareness programme i.e. Firstly, the spreading of awareness about menstrual health and unboxing the taboos that surround it; Secondly, providing adequate sanitation facilities and subsidised or free sanitary products to women and young students, especially in disadvantaged areas; thirdly, to ensure an efficient and sanitary manner of menstrual waste disposal.
In India, right to health derives from the Directive Principles of State Policy and is an established right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India which guarantees the right to life and dignity, the petition said.
The ability to manage menstruation in a hygienic manner is fundamental to the dignity and well-being of women, especially in a democratic society. It constitutes an integral component of basic hygiene, sanitation, and reproductive health services. Inadequate menstrual hygiene management compromises girls' education, health, and well-being.
Therefore, efforts to address these inadequacies must involve provision of sanitation and hygiene facilities along with creating an enabling social and physical environment that addresses all menstruation-related needs, the petition said.