Decision to mark sanitary pads as 'essential' item will be done after "understanding the current market scenario"

Decision to mark sanitary pads as 'essential' item will be done after "understanding the current market scenario"

The COVID-19 pandemic has not left any area/sector untouched and has affected the country in various ways. Many people have lost their jobs or had to face salary cuts. In the middle of all this there has been another area that has been talked about in regards to women hygiene that is still not been resolved.

In order to arrest the spread of the virus, a nationwide lockdown was imposed in India starting March 25. During this time, everything came to a standstill and only essential commodities were being sold. However, sanitary pads did not make it to the converted list of "essential commodities". 

As a result, there was a cut down in the production and the distribution of sanitary napkins. This, in turn, resulted in a shortage of sanitary napkins in stores and in a lot of places the shops ran out of sanitary napkins due to the panic buying.

A petition was filed by law students Nikita Gore and Vaishnavi Gholave with the help of advocate Vinod Sangvikar, asking the government to recognize sanitary napkins as an essential commodity and to be supplied through the public distribution system. Everything that falls under the Essential Commodity Act the government makes sure that is available to people at fair prices.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare told the Bombay High Court that the decision of making sanitary napkins as an essential commodity will be taken only after following the procedure and keeping in mind the costing and other preferences of various stakeholders.

Centre’s affidavit filed by Union ministry of health and family welfare noted that the decision to list sanitary pad as an essential commodity can be, "after understanding the current market scenario and the demand and supply gap" to ensure that there is "no adverse effect on beneficiaries and at the same time it fulfils the interest of the petitioners."

Girls studying in government schools who used to get sanitary napkins every month also had to face difficulties. Women in India even now use cloth instead of a sanitary napkin during menstruation. Lot of them are not even aware of the concept of sanitary napkins. While recognizing sanitary napkins as an essential commodity is something that should have been done a while ago, another major requirement is to educate women about menstrual hygiene and why they should not be using a cloth. 

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