Bihar IAS Officer’s Comment On Sanitary Pads Shows How We Are In Denial About Period Poverty

Bihar IAS officer Harjot Kaur Bhamra’s outrageous response to a girl asking her whether the government can provide sanitary pads at subsidised rates has stirred up a storm on social media. Bhamra, instead of giving a valid solution to the problem of expensive sanitary pads, went on to say that today girls are asking for cheaper pads, so, tomorrow, they will start asking for free condoms! When I first heard her comment in a video that has gone viral, I went ‘hain, what is even the connection between these two products?’

This girl asking if pads can be provided at a cheaper rate highlights how evidently period poverty exists. For those who don’t know what this term means, let me enlighten you. Period poverty means that those menstruating or getting their periods cannot afford to buy period products because of their weak financial conditions. If you think this is some made-up term, I assure you that it is not. There are women and girls in rural areas who use cloth and even leaves at times, to wear while on their period because sanitary pads are way too expensive for them.

Using these products is harmful to their reproductive health. They are at risk of contracting UTIs and other infections because of using such unsafe products. Reportedly, 60 per cent of deaths due to cervical cancer are reported in the country each year, of which two-thirds are because of not being able to maintain menstrual hygiene. The girl, very rightly so, asked if pads can be provided at cheap rates so that young girls and those after them can use them, and take the first step toward maintaining menstrual hygiene. But instead of worrying about women’s health, the Bihar IAS officer was worried about how girls will start asking for free condoms in the future. The priorities of this woman!

I would like to tell madam Harjot Bhamra that under the government’s National Aids Control Programme (NACO), an initiative called Condom Promotion Programme has been started where condoms are distributed for free to prevent HIV Aids from spreading. So, coming back to her point, yes, the government is doing its bit to provide free condoms so, how about it start providing free or at least, cheaper sanitary pads?

Sex is a voluntary choice that people like to indulge in but periods are not. No woman on this planet signed up to bleed for 5-7 days a month. So, if she cannot afford to buy safe period products, can the government not provide the same at cheaper rates? It is literally the need of the hour.

Also read: Bihar IAS Officer Expresses Regret Over Controversial ‘Condom’ Comment. But The Damage Is Already Done

I am so glad that this girl decided to take this issue up on an open platform like this which has highlighted how people in power like hers feel the need to deflect the subject instead of providing solutions to such problems. Given how period and sex are still considered taboo topics to even discuss within the closed walls of our homes, shutting down queries surrounding these topics will, in turn, be all the more daunting for girls to talk about.

Bihar IAS Officer Worried Girls Asking For Sanitary Napkins Will Ask For Condoms Next. Sorry Ma’am, Aapko Takleef Hui!

Kinjal Panchal

Kinjal is an avid reader who drools over fictional men but is a hardcore realist. Don’t do anything to make her give you the ‘bombastic side eye’!

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