Breaking The Taboo Of Disposing Of Pads & Tampons In Hiding- An Initiative By Being Juliet
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With Menstruation Day now behind us, and some of the largely well-intentioned campaigns and other hullabaloo dying down, we wanted to talk about a dimension of living as a woman, in India, that needs more attention.
Simply put - the nightmare that is the disposal of sanitary products.
We’re all familiar with the taboos and the squirming menstruation and anything associated with it come with. We DEFINITELY need to, and we’re all are actively working to do all we can on that. So we’re going to not spend too much time pondering on that, for just a bit.
The challenge here is two-fold - one around the desperate lack of facilities and infrastructure, and the other being the associated awkwardness which is more related to the overall taboo menstruation is taken as, today.
Disposing of our bloody pads and tampons is pain - right from when we’re at home, and much more so the moment one talks about any outside environment - schools, colleges, workplaces, public transport systems and what not. Rarely are there ever separate dustbins demarcated for sanitary waste that we can comfortably dispose them in.
It’s appalling that in today’s day and age, even in an office with people who have somewhat more progressive mindsets - often there is absolutely no provision for sanitary waste or sensitivity on the matter. It is fairly shameful that we are yet to acknowledge something so imperative and basic.
At work, and otherwise, some women end up flushing them down the pot - which has its myriad of issues right from clogging of drainage systems to ineffective disposal and what not.
Further the stigma, the unwanted attention hand-in-hand with the attempted hush-hush?! For something as basic as taking out the trash?! So bloody (no pun intended) what if it’s a sanitary pad - I shouldn’t need to have to perform it like a covert operation. And furthermore - why stay back from voicing my need for a proper hygienic disposal system, in the open without fear of judgment.
Upto 90% of a sanitary pad is plastic, making it non-biodegradable waste. It takes almost an eternity for it to decompose completely - which makes it a definite peril. Stats suggest that over 9000 tonnes of sanitary waste gets accumulated on an annual basis, of which 80% is flushed down the drain or dumped into landfills - neither of which are quite acceptable as waste management processes.
The major downside of landfill accumulation is the spreading of infection. Menstrual blood is a favorable medium for pathogens to multiply and grow, much more so in a wet medium. Actions are being undertaken by the Swachh Bharat campaign to improve disposal. Incineration is a more feasible option but has logistical challenges along with an emissions debate that it raises.
There’s definitely a case to be made for moving to menstrual cups and biodegradable pads (Saathi has phenomenal work there), washable pads (shoutout to Ecofemme on that) and such (Sirona has interesting products to help on disposal), and with regards breaking the taboo in general - Menstrupedia is doing some fantastic work on that.
But it is going to take a while until the bulk of India gets onboard those solutions. And the problems associated with disposal aren’t those we can ignore in the interim.
Proper facilities to dispose of sanitary waste need to become mandatory in commercial and public institutions, along with segregation and other municipal measures to address the logistical challenges around managing the waste.
We need to continue to spread awareness about this challenge, as one of many for a menstruating woman in India, and one can only help that helps with the beast of the taboo around all things menstruation in general.
Join us, sign, and help us spread the word - we’re aiming to get the word to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with the intent for action to be taken across the various aspects of this issue.
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