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Menstrual hygiene UPSC NOTE

 Status of menstrual hygiene in prisons

  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there are 23,772 women in Indian prisons. 

  • Of them, 77% are in the reproductive age group (18-50 years) and are likely to be regular menstruators. 

  • However, the availability of sanitary napkins has been inconsistent across different prisons in the country. 

  • The quality of sanitary napkins has also been unsatisfactory

  • Despite recommendations outlined in the 2016 Model Prison Manual, many States have not implemented provisions like supplying adequate water and washroom facilities for female prisoners

  • Overcrowding and poor socio-economic conditions further exacerbate the struggle of incarcerated women to secure basic necessities such as water, sanitary napkins, detergent, and soap during menstruation.

  • A study conducted by one of the authors in a prison in Maharashtra in June 2023 revealed that water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities failed to meet the demands of women imprisoned there

  • This presents significant challenges for women, who need more water to maintain personal hygiene during menstruation

  • The lack of continuous water supply also forced women to store water, taking up valuable space in the limited number of toilets available

  • About 50 women were forced to share just two toilets for all their daily activities, including excreting, changing napkins, and washing clothes and utensils. 

  • Women also reported feeling discouraged from using the filthy washrooms for frequent urination, which led to a greater incidence of urinary infections.

  • The study also found that prison authorities depended on sanitary napkins donated by non-governmental organisations

  • Decisions about the type, quality, and quantity of menstrual absorbents were left to these organisations, often resulting in the supply of substandard products.

Policy interventions

  • India has been making consistent efforts to improve access to menstrual hygiene products, especially among young women through the Menstrual Hygiene Scheme which includes the distribution of free or subsidised sanitary napkins.

  • In 2023, India took an important stride forward by formulating the ‘National Menstrual Hygiene Policy’, to recognise menstruation as a natural process that demands more meaningful attention. 

  • At its heart lies a crucial principle: ensuring equity in the safe and dignified management of menstrual hygiene. 

  • Remarkably, the policy identifies prisoners as a target population with a compromised access to menstrual hygiene facilities

  • This inclusion reflects a positive step forward. 

  • However, the policy falls short of providing a concrete action plan to enhance menstrual hygiene management in prisons

  • It also overlooks the Ministry of Home Affairs as a critical stakeholder that influences menstrual hygiene management in prisons.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Menstrual hygiene UPSC NOTE
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