The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the authorities to explain the measures taken by them to create awareness about menstrual hygiene among school students. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar directed the Centre, Delhi government and the local civic bodies to file status reports on the working of the menstrual hygiene scheme for schools, budgetary allocation for Delhi and the manner in which such products are disbursed.
It also asked the governments and civic bodies here the status of publicising awareness schemes and their effective implementation in schools. The court’s direction came during the hearing of a plea by advocate Setu Niket, who sought direction to the Centre, the Delhi government and civic bodies to establish a mechanism to provide education on menstruation and menstrual hygiene in all schools at New Delhi.
During the hearing, the counsel for the petitioner submitted that there was multiplicity in schemes and everyone wanted to do something different due to which the funds for the issue get diluted. He said there should be one single scheme for which the funds should flow from the Centre to the Delhi government. Additional standing counsel of Delhi government Sanjoy Ghose said that tenders have been floated for procurement and disbursement of hygiene products.
He also said that the AAP government was spreading menstrual hygiene awareness among adolescent girls in the schools and were providing sanitary napkins every month “free of cost”. Advocate Monika Arora, appearing for the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, said the authorities have been taking steps on menstrual hygiene and they are managing even though they are short of funds. The court listed the matter for further hearing on July 11.
The Delhi government had earlier informed the bench that even teachers in government schools were imparted training on the issue of menstruation. The petitioner had told the court that according to a survey, the school dropout rate for girls was the most during puberty. She had sought direction to the authorities to ensure that menstrual hygiene products were made available to adolescent girls in schools free of cost or at subsidised rates.
The plea had also sought the establishment of a mechanism to provide education to girls aged 11-14 years about menstrual hygiene and safeguards, and access to trained female teachers or health counsellors in schools on a weekly or a monthly basis for imparting education on the issue. It had said it was imperative to sensitise children in the 10-14 age group about menstrual hygiene and every possible effort should be made by the state to help girls continue with their education.
The New Delhi Municipal Council had informed the court that the girls, studying in their schools, were given sanitary napkins on the last working day of each month and they already have separate toilets for girls, boys and school staff which are maintained by their civil department.