New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from the Centre, states and Union territories (UTs) on a PIL seeking issuance of directions for providing free sanitary pads to girls studying in classes 6 to 12 in government schools across the country.
A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha took note of the plea of social activist Jaya Thakur, a Madhya Pradesh-based doctor, and issued notices to the central government and all the states and UTs.
The top court also sought the assistance of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta in the matter, saying the petitioner has raised the important issue of sanitation and hygiene of girl students in government and government-aided schools.
"Menstruation makes the need for safe water, sanitation and hygiene, especially, important for women. In such conditions, access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene can be a matter of life and death. According to a report published by Water Aid, illnesses related to a lack of water, basic sanitation and hygiene were responsible for the deaths of almost 800,000 women around the world in a single year making it the fifth biggest killer of women behind heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease", the plea had stated emphasising upon the need for proper sanitation during menstruation.
The petition also submits that lack of proper Menstrual Hygiene Management acts as a major barrier for a girl child in getting an education due to the stigmas associated with menstruation.
The petition further added, "The difficulties faced by these young girls are compounded by the fact that there are several educational facilities and institutions without basic toilet facilities. It cannot be denied that separate and basic toilets are essential for ensuring the constitutional guarantees to these children.....the prevalent myths about menstruation force millions of girls to drop out of school early or be ostracised for the duration of their menstrual cycle every month. They also affect the hiring of female workers, as it is felt that menstruation hampers their productivity capabilities. Unfortunately, it continues to be treated as a taboo in many societies, shrouded in a culture of silence and shame."
(With PTI, Live Law inputs)