A report submitted by the Maharashtra District Legal Services Authority (MDLSA) shows a very grim picture of the conditions of toilets and washrooms in the government-aided schools not only in the state but also in Mumbai.
Pursuant to an order of the Bombay High Court in July, the MDLSA conducted surprise visits in several government-aided schools in Mumbai, its suburbs and the state to ascertain the hygiene conditions in the school washrooms and implementation of Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM).
The HC had passed on the directives to the MDSLA while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by two law students. Nikita Gore and Vaishnavi Gholave had pointed out that the Central and state governments are not effectively implementing MHM in schools.
The survey was conducted in 12 districts–Kolhapur, Mumbai, Mumbai Suburb, Nashik, Pune, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sangli, Satara, Sindhudurg, Solapur and Thane.
The petitioners filed an additional affidavit, through their Advocate Vinod Sanghvikar, stating that the MDSLA reports show that “no proper steps have been taken by the government for proper and effective MHM for the school going girls”.
Citing the report on hygiene conditions in schools in Mumbai, the affidavit stated that only one out of 15 schools were in good condition. It said that conditions of washrooms and toilets in three of these schools “was pathetic, unclean and unhygienic”. The conditions in other schools was good. Only four schools had vending machines for sanitary napkins; of which three had non-functional machines.
Except one, “proper and effective MHM for school going girls wasn't available in the rest of the 14 schools”, read the affidavit.
Out of the 16 schools inspected in Mumbai Suburban district, some of which are rural areas, “there was no proper and regular cleanliness of the washrooms of all the inspected schools”, it added.
It was further observed that, in some schools there were no basic facilities such as buckets or mugs available in the washrooms. (Also) sanitary pads and articles for disposing of them weren't found in a safe and hygienic manner at the toilets, underlined the affidavit.
The petitioner submitted that the absence of MHM is also one of the main reasons why girls are dropping out of schools since the menstrual cycle can't be avoided.
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