A female traveller requested on her tweet to the Indian Railways for providing sanitary pads in trains. However, many people did not respond positively to the same, and started criticising the woman. She was shamed, trolled and even had to face nasty comments for placing a request for sanitary pads. Not only men, even women joined the online ruckus against her and this included a “prominent” right wing handle, Shefali Vaidya with a huge following on her Twitter. She was one of the first ones to target the girl with a repulsive tweet that said, ”What do you want @RailwaySeva to sell next? Condoms, in case you meet someone on the train and you feel the urge? Whatever happened to traveling well prepared?”
She went on to equate sanitary pads with condoms, shaming her for asking something that would needed by any woman in times of emergency. What followed was endless trolling and shaming, making me wonder how insensitive one has to be to recognise the basic needs of women. Irrespective of your political affiliations, how can anyone equate a sanitary pad with condoms and outrage over it? The replies to her demand were insanely stupid and misgynostic. It is high time that people develop some empathy and awareness about periods.
She was one of the first ones to target the girl with a repulsive tweet that said, ”What do you want @RailwaySeva to sell next? Condoms, in case you meet someone on the train and you feel the urge? Whatever happened to traveling well prepared?”
Periods are medical emergencies for girls/women which may generally occur around a particular date, but can either be preponed or postponed for various reasons including travel stress. Most of them carry sanitary pads for emergency, but at times, due to heavy bleeding some may require extra pads. More importantly, we are all human, chances are that either the pads were forgotten or not carried. So there is nothing wrong in being unprepared and asking for help. Airports, malls and even some theatres already provide sanitary pads. So, the railways can also make similar arrangements.
In a country, where railways is the most commonly used and economical means of transport for longer journeys, catering to the needs of women should be a priority. People irrespective of gender, need to be more aware of periods so that in time, the taboos associated with it can be dispelled. There is a need to emphasise on education and awareness about periods, but surprisingly many “educated” persons carry massive misconceptions about periods.
The incident clearly brought into limelight how periods are perceived, even in modern day India, and any talk of it on a public forum is seen as demeaning to the culture. Even many schools and colleges don’t provide sanitary pads in emergencies, and the condition in rural areas is even worse. Hygiene during periods is a vital aspect in the overall health of women. Failure to follow proper hygiene leads to health issues and a general lack of confidence. Lack of awareness and socio-cultural beliefs that render menstruation as a “dirty” phase in women’s lives have long deprived women access to proper menstrual hygiene management.
In a country, where railways is the most commonly used and economical means of transport, for longer journeys, catering to the needs of women should be a priority.
Some of the common health problems associated with poor menstrual hygiene are—Infection of Reproductive Tract, Urinary Tract Infection, yeast infection, Hepatitis B infection and increased chances of cervical cancer.
While efforts are being made to educate young women about the use of hygienic products, such incidents where a girl is shamed for asking sanitary pads from railway authorities raises many questions about how much we really want to deal with such basic issues of women health. This has to be repeated again and again that menstruation is normal physiological phenomenon. There should be no taboo associated with it, and demanding products that help in maintaining menstrual hygiene is nothing to be ashamed of. Social media can be a good platform to create awareness about menstruation and girls/women should be free to air their grievances.The railway authorities should review the demand and do the needful to give priority to its female passengers.