Menstrual hygiene still a major challenge in tricity colleges - Hindustan Times
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Menstrual hygiene still a major challenge in tricity colleges

May 26, 2023 10:40 PM IST

Lack of awareness, limited access to menstrual products, and social stigmas surrounding menstruation continue to be hurdles for female students in tricity ahead of Menstrual Hygiene Day. While steps have been taken to address the issue, more needs to be done, including providing free or subsidised sanitary pads on campus and open dialogues about menstruation. Many NGOs hold awareness campaigns to break taboos and encourage conversations.

Ahead of Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28), as we speak to tricity-based female students, we find that lack of awareness, limited access to menstrual products, and persistent social stigmas surrounding menstruation continue to be a hurdle for them.

While positive steps are being taken to address the issue of menstrual hygiene, there’s still a lot that needs to be done (Illustration: Shutterstock)
While positive steps are being taken to address the issue of menstrual hygiene, there’s still a lot that needs to be done (Illustration: Shutterstock)

While positive steps are being taken to address the issue of menstrual hygiene, there’s still a lot that needs to be done.

“Our campuses are not really period-friendly. Yes, some washrooms on campus have sanitary pad dispensers, but most are either out of order or aren’t regularly stocked up,” says Vidya Sharma, a first-year undergraduate student at Panjab University.

“A number of things can be done to improve menstrual hygiene, including the provision of free or subsidised sanitary pads on campus, an open dialogue about menstruation, and proper maintenance of the existing infrastructure,” she adds.

Gursimran Kaur, a second-year MA student at MCM DAV College for Women, says, “Menstruation is still a taboo in our country. We first need to deal with the stigma attached to it if we want any real change. The tuck shops on campus have male attendants and I’ve seen many students feel hesitant to approach their store to buy sanitary pads. Even the shopkeepers pack pads as if they are something to be ashamed of. We need to change that first.”

“Menstrual hygiene is a major challenge. The washrooms on campus are never clean, the pad dispensers are always out of order, and sometimes there’s no water supply in the loo. And there’s always the risk of infection. So, hygiene is out of question. If the authorities take action and resolve these issues, we won’t have to miss classes during periods,” says Garima Mittal, of Dev Samaj College.

Shaheen, of SD College, says, “The campus washrooms have sanitary pad recycling machines but no dispensers. So, if an emergency arises, you either have to borrow from a classmate or check if the shops on campus have pads. And being a co-ed college, in case you get a stain, the snickers and embarrassing comments that follow are too much to handle.”

“We understand that it is crucial to create a supportive environment for the females on campus and are actively working towards it. But sensitising an entire college, including the faculty, staff, and male students is bound to take time; breaking deep-rooted taboos and eliminating shame associated with periods will need continued efforts and a lot of unlearning,” says Sukhdeep Kaur Bhatti, an administrative staffer.

“Many NGOs hold awareness campaigns on campus to break the taboo and foster a culture of openness regarding menstruation. These campaigns aim to debunk myths, provide the right information about menstrual health, and encourage conversations about the topic. But things won’t change overnight. It’s a gradual process,” says Mallika Bhagat, a PhD scholar at PU.

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