With the focus on preparing an adolescent girl for puberty and adulthood through education and ensuring that school drop outs due to lack of access to sanitary products is eliminated, an advocate has moved the Delhi High Court seeking its intervention to ensure no girl child misses on her education and health due to lack of basics.
A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal has sought response from the Centre, the Delhi government and the three municipal agencies on the Public Interest Litigation filed by lawyer Setu Niket who has raised his voice for a National Level Policy to establish a mechanism to provide education, sensitization and ensure availability of menstrual hygiene products such as sanitary napkins to adolescent girls in schools.
Niket’s counsel Esha Mazumdar said the petition confines its reliefs to providing access and education about menstrual hygiene to adolescent girls aged 10 years onwards as „adolescent females enrolled in schools who come from poor backgrounds are generally not equipped and are neither educated by the parents about mensuration and menstrual hygiene. This lack of education increases prevalence of unhygienic and unhealthy practices which increases abstinence and eventual dropping out from school”.
The PIL says “for the effective implementation of the Right to Education Act it is imperative that every child be it a girl or boy shall not be deterred from basic elementary education for any reason whatsoever. However, the State fails in its responsibility to provide education to the girl child when she has to drop out of school after entering the age of puberty due to certain biological changes in the body and due to lack of sanitary products and the inability (due to lack of education or financial constraints) of her guardians. It is imperative that children of the age group of 10-14 years are sensitized about menstrual hygiene and every possible effort to help the girl child in continuing her education be made by the State“.
The PIL relies on a survey conducted on the rate of School drop outs of girl child, which found it to be the highest at the age of puberty. According to a Report by the Citizen Bureau published on 31stMay’ 2016, around 20% girls drop out of School on reaching the age of puberty. As per a Report of UNICEF India, the unavailability of sanitary pads is also one of the major reasons for dropout from Schools.
It also cites the ‘ShePad’ scheme initiated by the Kerala government wherein Rs 30 crore has been allocated to provide sanitary napkins for girl students in all government. Schools.
It informed that Kenya has recently incorporated right to access free sanitary products as part of the Education Act to ensure that adolescent females are not devoid of education due to the issues arising out of lack of access to products and knowledge relating to menstruation.
The PIL makes following prayers:
Read the Petition Here