End improper & harmful practice of handling sanitary waste #AbAurNahin

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Meena is a garbage collector who industriously collects household waste so she can sustain her family all by herself. I have known Meena for a very long time, occasionally I give her food and some clothes and I often tutor her two kids. One day, while she was collecting garbage from our neighbourhood, I saw her segregating naked stained Menstrual Waste (MW) with her bare hands. That sight was enough to shake me to my core.
I told her that it’s not hygienic and she should object to people about throwing their MW in this manner.

She responded, "Arey Didi Aap Kyun Udaas Ho Gaye, Yeh Toh Rozh Ka Hain. Main kisko, kya kahun? Har koi nahi smjhta, kahin main apni naukri na gawa baithu"

Translation - "Why are you getting upset? This is my daily work. What should I say and to whom? Everyone does not understand and I cannot afford to lose my job."

Only 57.6% of women in our nation have access to Sanitary Pads (SPs), yet we end up using close to 440 Million SPs per month, of which more than 80% finds its way to local water-bodies and landfills.

Unmanaged and untreated, these MW can gather harmful microorganisms like Escherichia coli (E.Coli), Salmonella, Staphylococcus,etc. which multiply at an alarming rate.

It is sad that close to 5 Lac garbage collectors and rag pickers in Delhi have to handle our MW with their bare hands. Often their hands are bruised and cut and without any gloves they expose themselves to harmful micro-organisms to the likes of which they are in fact unaware of.

In a recent survey conducted by WHO on 95 Indian waste pickers, it was found that:

  •  80% have eye problems
  •  73% have respiratory ailments
  •  40% have skin problems/infections
  •  51% have gastrointestinal ailments                                               

With the help of this petition, I want to request the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India and the Indian Medical Association to - 

  • Make it mandatory for Sanitary Pads manufacturers to mention the correct method of disposing SPs
  • Make it mandatory for manufacturers to provide tamper proof and recognizable disposable pouches within the sanitary packs.

I therefore request you to sign my petition, so together we can bring an end to improper and harmful practice of handling sanitary waste. #AbAurNahin

Yes, rag pickers deal with garbage, but just like us they also want a dignified and a safe life.

In them lies a great potential for improved waste management and I believe it is our duty to not let them risk their lives just to keep our streets clean.