The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from the Centre, states and Union Territories (UTs) on a plea seeking direction to provide free sanitary pads to girls studying in Classes 6 to 12 in government schools across the country.
A bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha said the plea has raised an important issue of sanitation and hygiene of girl students in government and government-aided schools, and sought the assistance of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta in the matter.
The plea, filed through advocate Varinder Kumar Sharma, said that adolescent females between the age group of 11 and 18 years, who come from poor backgrounds, face the insurmountable difficulties in receiving education on account of lack of access to education, which is a right under Article 21A of the Constitution and it is free and compulsory under the Right to Education Act, 2009.
“These are adolescent females who are not equipped with and are also not educated by their parents about menstruation and menstrual hygiene. This deprived economic status and illiteracy leads to prevalence of unhygienic and unhealthy practices, which have serious health consequences, increase obstinacy and lead to eventual dropping out from schools,” added the plea.
The plea has been filed by Jaya Thakur, a Madhya Pradesh-based doctor.
“Around the world, one in three girls face inadequate sanitation, and many others face social and cultural limits during their periods,” read the plea.
It added that access to safe sanitation is extremely important for women and girls during their menstrual cycles.
The plea also cited a report that nearly 23 million girls drop out of school annually due to lack of proper menstrual hygiene management facilities.
After hearing arguments, the top court issued notice to the Centre, states and UTs in the matter.