S.H.E. : Sanitary, Hygiene, Environment

By Dinesh Jain

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Menstruation: A Taboo Subject


Menstruation has been a subject of taboo for the longest time in India. Considered as unclean and embarrassing, there were times when women would be forced to alienate themselves for “those five days” whenever they had their periods.

However with social engineering and increasing awareness on the subject in terms hygienic methods of disposal, environmental contamination etc., menstrual periods as well as sanitary napkins are a topic of earnest study and discussion.


Lack of sanitary napkins:

Current reports state that an estimate of approximately 88% of menstruating women and girls in TIER III, TIER IV and other satellite sectors in India, are forced to use homemade alternatives like plain cloth or rags, or even newspapers etc., because of cost, accessibility and availability etc. Cloth pads with stitched ends, tampons and menstrual cups are used by women for their own distinct advantages.


Lack of hygiene:

 

Furthermore, inaccessibility to proper sanitary napkins or access to clean toilets lead to more than 50% women missing their work. It is for the same reason that the number of dropouts in school going girls is very high.


Harmful to the environment:

 

There is a lack of concern for sanitary waste management in our country. The plastic used in sanitary napkins is non-biodegradable. Non-biodegradable, the soiled napkin stays in the landfills for a long time and does not decompose. It is now wondered therefore that it is not only harmful for health but also has negative effect on the ecosystem. 

 

A study conducted in 2011 titled 'Sanitary protection: Every woman's health right' estimated that only 12% of the 335 million menstruating women have access to disposable sanitary napkins. However, Environment portal ‘Down to Earth’ estimated that 432 million pads are disposed every month. (reference site given below)

Struggle for disposal:

 

Women, both rural and urban, face this burning question every month, while government authorities are striving hard to find a method to handle the staggering amount of sanitary waste generated every month. Some women wrap it in plastic or paper and dispose it along with household garbage, yet some flush them down which clog the drain pipes or throw them into a nullah.

"An average woman throws away about 150kg of mostly non-biodegradable absorbents every year," according to periodofchange, a campaign started under The Kachra project.

Incineration of sanitary napkins and cloths:

However, the Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998 says that items contaminated with blood and body fluids, including cotton, dressings, soiled plaster casts, lines and bedding, are bio-medical waste and should be incinerated to destroy pathogens.


A New Initiative for Women:


There are two fold concerns around sanitary napkins. One concern is availability of suitable sanitary pads whenever it is required and second, is the disposal of soiled napkins.

Current reports state that an estimate of approximately 88% of menstruating women and girls, especially in TIER III, TIER IV and other satellite sectors in India, are forced to use homemade alternatives like plain cloth or rags, etc. during their menstruation. This is because of price point going beyond the reach of these women, and also because of accessibility of proper sanitary napkins.

Much is also spoken about the harmful and the negative effect on the ecosystem of these sanitary napkins. Women wrap these soiled sanitary pads in paper and dispose of either with household garbage or flush them down clogging the drain pipes. Some simply throw them into a nullah without realizing the cumulative damage to our surroundings and thereby our health.

As is known, all sanitary napkins are made up of a certain type of plastic which is non-biodegradable. Soiled napkins are disposed of as landfills where these bio-medical wastes remain for a long time without decomposing.

The government authorities are striving hard to find a method to handle the staggering amount of sanitary waste generated every month. After much research, it is concluded that that bio-medical waste, such as these napkins should be incinerated.





Campaign Details


About Campaigner
DJ
Dinesh Jain
 
About Beneficiary
GC
Ganga Charitable Trust

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