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If you think getting your period is a pain, imagine getting it in Prison!

Yes, that is what we are going to discuss in today’s blog. Periods in Prison.

The right to health includes providing healthcare that is available, accessible, acceptable and of good quality. Because let’s not forget, people in the prison might be called prisoners or criminals yet they are humans.

Or, as subject of this blog, they are women and they are not provided with basic necessities of something as natural and biological as periods.

Every state’s prison manual provides for a minimum number of clothes and undergarments to be provided to women prisoners as per climatic conditions and corresponding to basic hygiene standards. However, it is found that prisoners are often provided with very limited clothing, and do not have the opportunity to wash these clothes regularly.

It is essential to note that a large majority (81.8%) of female prisoners fall in the menstruating age group of 18-50 years, increasing their need for proper sanitation facilities as well as access to adequate menstrual hygiene products. They are to be provided with sterilized sanitary napkins as per their requirement, but this is largely missing. Women are reportedly charged for sanitary napkins in some prisons or are only provided a set monthly number irrespective of need. This leads women to resort to using unhygienic materials such as cloth, ash, pieces of old mattresses, newspapers etc. This affects not only their health but also challenges their dignity. Women inside the cell can’t do anything but feel helpless. Denial of sanitary products to women only shows that the state effectively uses the weapon of “womanhood” to inflict wounds.

Maybe Swachch Bharat Abhiyan should try to shed light in these dungeons too!

When talked about this issue with people, they say things like “well! They are in jails, there is not much that can be done.” Well, knock knock people and authorities out there, here are few suggestions-

Sterilized sanitary pads should be issued free of cost to women prisoners as per their requirements with no maximum limit. Train women prisoners to produce low cost sanitary napkins for use in prisons, as well as for sale outside. Linkages may be established with NGOs, if needed, to distribute sanitary napkins in jails free of cost Contraception should be available in prison, taking into account that contraceptive pills are not only used to prevent pregnancy, but also to treat other gender specific conditions, such as painful menstruation.

However, having talked about majorly what the situation is like. It would be wrong on my part and unfair to my readers if I provide absolutely no information about the affirmative steps (though small yet it is beginning of something.) taken by few NGOs and government in collaboration with certain Jails. So let’s talk about some positivity here, people!!

As reported by TOI on May, 28th 2018- “The women inmates at the Ahmedabad Central Jail have now become ‘Pad Women’ with establishment of a plant for making sanitary pads on May 7. The joint initiative of Gujarat prisons department, Karma Foundation and Navajivan Trust will soon be replicated in other prisons as well.

“The initiative is also aimed at creating awareness about menstrual hygiene among the inmates. The pads will be distributed to the women prisoners across the state. As the initiative will expand, it will also cover the rural areas of Gujarat,” said Vivek Desai, managing trustee of Navajivan Trust.

Further, in a boost to menstrual hygiene among women and adolescent girls, Tihar Jail will manufacture affordable quality sanitary pads under its TJ’s brand. Tihar will become the second prison after Sabarmati Central Jail at Ahmedabad in Gujarat to manufacture sanitary pads. Women convicts will be roped in and they will earn wages in the process.

Having discussed about the situation since many decades and gradual changes which are coming into light as a result of efforts put by many people and authorities, I would like to conclude by saying that It is high time now that the authorities acknowledge the fact female inmates’ requirement for tampons, pads and other menstrual products is not a luxury but a necessity and bring some major change around.


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