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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Bengal: Stores running out of stock, online services hit, SFI cushions sanitary pad scarcity

According to SFI members, they had started distributing sanitary napkins from March 25 in almost every district of the state. At least 5,000 women have bought sanitary napkins from them, they said.

Written by Atri Mitra | Kolkata | Published: April 6, 2020 5:40:56 am
coronavirus outbreak, india lockdown, online services, SFI, Sanitary pad, kolkata news, indian express news People queue up for food items at Beliaghata, Sunday. (Photo: Partha Paul)

When Jadavpur resident Moumita Chakraborty, 32, failed to buy sanitary napkins even after multiple visits to several medicine shops, she was in a fix. Her woes doubled as the regular online home delivery services, which stopped with the imposition of the nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus, were yet to resume.

It was then that she came across a Facebook post, put up by the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), the students’ wing of CPM, that in Bengali asked women to contact them “without any hesitation”. Chakraborty immediately called up on one of the two numbers provided on the post, and within 12 hours she got sanitary pads delivered at her doorstep.

According to SFI members, they had started distributing sanitary napkins from March 25 in almost every district of the state. At least 5,000 women have bought sanitary napkins from them, they said.

Rituparna Mitra, SFI’s Central Committee member, said their main focus was on women who belonged to underprivileged background or rural areas. “There are more shops available in cities, and urban people do not see menstruation and sanitary napkins as taboos.”

However, she added that their services were available for all cross-sections of the society as the lockdown had affected everyone.

According to Mitra, the SFI started its campaign in 2016, but earlier, the members used to conduct awareness drives only.

“But now with the lockdown in place, we realised that it will be difficult for women to venture out of their houses to buy sanitary napkins. So, we started the initiative of distributing pads across the state through social networking sites. Thousands of women have sought help from us and we have reached out to them successfully.”

Another SFI leader and South 24 Parganas district secretary, Tanusree Mondol, said: “We accept money from those who can afford, to the rest we deliver for free. We distribute sanitary pads as per demand and choice of women callers.”

According to Mondol, the group keeps in touch with several distributors who supply the products at wholesale rate.

“After seeing our advertisement, many distributors got in touch with us and expressed eagerness to supply sanitary napkins. We procure the products from these distributors and deliver them to different parts of the state.”

According to SFI, a special team has been set up in every district for distribution. Several male members of SFI are also associated with the team and deliver sanitary napkins at people’s doorstep.

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