A Team of five led by Ashish Sao, final year student of Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur and Rupal Pandey, student of BVP Pune conducted a survey as a part of their project based in Chhattisgarh primarily aimed at understanding the impact of Rural Distress on women and adolescent girls in parts of Raipur, Durg, Rajnandgaon and Dhamtari. The project titled “Menstrual Hygiene Management” exhibits some remarkable insights on some underrated and untouched domains of rural distress. The report is targeted at the toll on lack of “Menstrual hygiene”, social taboos and rampant increase in non affordability of Sanitary Pads. The project claims that much has been easily assumed regarding the usage of pads in rural India without proper on-ground research.
The survey conducted in the District Hospital and weekly Haats includes first hand report from more than 500 women between the age group of 14 to 60 years. Some insights that were collected from the report include:
Inadequate menstrual hygiene and unavailability of sanitary pads to tribal and rural sections increases school absenteeism. Some adolescent girls (age group 14-18 years) miss almost close to five days in a month when it comes to attending school (50 days a year). Eventually missing out on the mid-day meal, this gap leaves them with one meal a day which again is a loss of further source of energy. The report statistics claim that the strongest barrier against using proper sanitary pad is its affordability and accessibility in villages. The most pertinent unaccustomed stats claim that women belonging to those rural sections are hesitant not about talking or discussing menstrual cycle or their usual usage but mostly about going to the local market or to a pharmacy asking about sanitary pads. Some say that these local shops are occupied by men and bystanders.
The report further claims that women in rural areas use Cloth Sanitary Material that is a cut out of an old cloth. The cloth pad prevents leakages and most importantly is washable. The idea is not to wash and reuse, but to avoid disposal. 70% of women say the market pad has to be disposed off compulsorily. This is something that they would not want because of the taboo of the society involved. Some 20% said that the sanitary pad used by them is generally dumped in the lakes and ponds nearest to their village.
The study that has been prepared in pursuance to a project will be submitted to the Chhattisgarh State Legal Services Authority and the Department of Panchayat and Rural Development. The objectives of which portray a dismal state of feminine hygiene care in Rural India, and shows unhygienic sanitary practices specifically in rural tribal occupied Chhattisgarh. The State Government, last year, had promised Sanitary Vending Machines across the belts of Chhattisgarh. The report shows that more than 85% women had no knowledge about these sanitary vending machines. In addition to the statistics, 10% women would not want to use vending machines because of their traditional practices.
According to the survey, “women’s opinion on using Cloth Sanitary Pads“ witnessed the most number of affirmations. It said around 86% women were keen on understanding more about Cloth Pads. Some said that they have already been using cloths in their homes, while some said that this would help them re-use the material, cutting out on their monthly cost and avoiding its disposal.
The Quest Consulting Hub – a consultancy firm based out of Bhilai was the pioneer behind the survey study. The complete statistics of study is set to be published on the 15th of August.
[This survey is the part of an ongoing research study on Menstrual Hygiene Management. The project aims at studying the sociological as well environmental impacts of menstrual hygiene on women in rural areas. The entire research study is being carried out by Chhattisgarh State Legal Services Authority.]