NEW DELHI -- The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice to the central and Delhi government on a PIL seeking direction to provide access and education about menstrual hygiene to adolescent girls and free sanitary pads.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar sought a status report from the central government, Delhi government and the civic bodies by November 7 on the plea.
The bench sought various details about the existing scheme, if any, its implementation, the syllabus on menstrual hygiene and status of separate toilets for effective implementation and providing of sanitary pads.
The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a practicing advocate Setu Niket told the bench that considering the increasing number of girl child drop outs from school, there was a need of a mechanism to educate school children on menstrual hygiene and providing free and compulsory sanitary pads under the Right to Education Act, 2009.
Advocate Esha Mazumdar, appearing for the petitioner, argued the government failed in its responsibility to provide education to the girl child "when she has to drop out of school after entering the age of puberty due to certain biological changes in the body and due to lack of sanitary products and the inability (due to lack of education or financial constraints) of her guardians".
It is imperative that children of the age group of 10-14 years are sensitised about menstrual hygiene and every possible effort to help the girl child in continuing her education be made by the government, the advocate added.
The adolescent females enrolled in schools who come from poor backgrounds are generally not equipped and are neither educated by the parents about menstruation and menstrual hygiene and this lack of education increases prevalence of unhygienic and unhealthy practices which increases abstinence and eventual dropping out from school, the plea stated.
The plea said that as per a survey conducted on the rate of school drop outs of girl child, it is highest at the age of puberty.
The PIL sought formulating a National Level Policy to establish a mechanism to provide education, sensitization and ensure availability of menstrual hygiene products to adolescent girls.
The petition said Kerala took the initiative this year to announce the state government's "She Pad" scheme, which aimed to provide sanitary pads to all girl students.
As per news reports, Kerala has allocated Rs 30 crore for the project to provide sanitary napkins for girl students in all government schools, it added.
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