Access to Pads & Awareness on Menstruation for Sex Workers in Sonagachi #CountThemToo

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Let’s count them too- menstruation matters to every human being who menstruates; even the sex workers.

Being a professional Social Worker in Kolkata, I encounter many social issues on a daily basis as a part of my field visits. But the one that has impacted me the most in recent times is the issue of sex workers in Sonagachi, West Bengal, believed to be Asia’s biggest brothel. Among the community of over 10,000 sex workers there is an aggressive spread of sexually transmitted disease & female urinary tract infections, which causes severe ill health among the women. Along with that, poor menstrual hygiene and lack of basic awareness of menstrual hygiene facilities complicates the health related issues faced by majority of the female residents in Sonagachi.

Sex trade & menstruation both are strong issues & taboos generally people don’t want to talk about it. I have seen the sex workers in the community using old torn and dirty cloth as a substitute for sanitary napkins during their periods. This is often reused without washing it hygienically and safely. This method is practicing over the years and they learnt it from their mother, grand mother etc without knowing the actual fact. Sign my petition!

They have shortage of money and don’t have the luxury of going out to buy sanitary napkins for themselves in order to make their menstruation process a little more healthy & hygienic. The taboo against menstruation is so strong that they don’t even discuss the issue among themselves as they were taught not to talk about it in public from childhood.

I am asking MLA Dr. Shashi Panja, Ministry of Women & Child Development in the Govt. of West Bengal and the ward Councillor of Sonagachi Mrs. Sunanda Sarkar to provide free sanitary napkins and holds and holds awareness camps to the community of sex workers in Sonagachi. This will increase the knowledge levels of sex workers in the community and their overall awareness towards MHM issues and slow the death rates due to lack of menstrual hygiene.

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