A group of schoolgirls spoke to adolescent girls from financially deprived homes about hygiene practices during menstruation.
The girls of Classes V and VI of Julien Day School Ganganagar, who have started menstruating for the first time, took the initiative to go to slums surrounding their school and speak to girls their age, most of whom have little knowledge or awareness about it.
The girls carried posters with them and spoke of not being ashamed of “periods” or trying to hide them.
In many families, menstruation continues to remain a taboo subject and the problem is worse in urban slums.
The challenge that the girls from Julien Day School came across was to make the community girls speak to them about periods.
When they first went to the neighbourhood, the girls barely stepped out and there were more “inquisitive men” who kept hovering around.
“With the men around most of the girls were not ready to come out and speak. We managed to find a room through a local club and waited for over 30 minutes for the girls to come there. We had to give them a comfortable and private place to open up. Gradually, they did,” said teacher Aditi Ghose.
They shared problems that they face when they start menstruating, including not being allowed to perform puja rituals at home, to cook or to even sit with boys.
“Some of the girls shared that they get embarrassed when they get their periods. We told them it is normal and nothing to be scared or ashamed of,” said student Anumeha Basu.
The girls told them the need for and how to use sanitary pads and maintain hygienic practices. They told them the correct way of disposing of used sanitary pads.
“Some of them are unaware and do not understand the importance of using sanitary pads,” said a teacher.
Affording sanitary napkins is a challenge for many of them and the family would rather spend that money on buying other essential items.
“Some of the girls believe menstruation is a disease. We told them that if they do not follow proper hygiene it might lead to infections,” said Devangana Shome, a student in Class VI.
About 200 sanitary pads were distributed among the girls.
“It is more than just access to sanitary pads and appropriate toilets. It is also about ensuring women and girls living below the poverty level manage their menstruation with dignity,” said Bobby Baxter, principal of the school.
Access to pads will happen when they are aware of why they need to be used. Otherwise, they would prioritise other needs at the cost of infections and health risks, he said.
Trains cancelled for maintenance work
Dozens of local and express trains, which operate from Howrah division and connect several south Bengal districts such as Birbhum, Purulia and Burdwan, are cancelled from Sunday till at least February 4 for maintenance work at various places and the demolition of an old railway overbridge at Burdwan station.
Sources said among the important trains, Santiniketan Express will remain cancelled February 4. Other trains such as Maa Tara Express and Hool Express will also be cancelled.
At least two dozen local trains both on the main and chord-line section of the Howrah-Burdwan are also cancelled. A few others will be diverted through alternative routes.
“Multiple maintenance work is on in the division,” said a railway official.
Maintenance work has been scheduled between Somrabazar and Behula stations under Bandel-Katwa section and trains will not operate on the route for 13 hours on Sunday.