Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Menstrual hygiene in Indian prisons | Explained


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Issues associated with the Indian Prison System;

Why in the News?

Despite improvements in menstrual hygiene, female prisoners in India face neglect, highlighting systemic biases and unmet basic needs like sanitary products and proper facilities.

About NFHS Recently Conducted Survey:

  • The 5th round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS 2019-2020) revealed that approximately 80% of young women aged 15-24 years are now using safe menstrual hygiene products.
  • This survey highlights a positive shift in menstrual hygiene management across India, particularly in urban areas and among certain demographics.

About the NCRB Data:

  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there are 23,772 women in Indian prisons. Of these, 77% are in the reproductive age group (18-50 years) and are likely to be regular menstruators.
  • The availability of sanitary napkins has been inconsistent across different prisons, and the quality has often been unsatisfactory.
  • Many States have not implemented provisions from “the 2016 Model Prison Manual”, such as supplying adequate water and washroom facilities for female prisoners.
  • Overcrowding and poor socio-economic conditions further exacerbate the struggle of incarcerated women to secure basic necessities during menstruation.

BACK2BASICS: National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)

  • NCRB was set up in 1986 to serve as a repository of information on crime and criminals. Its establishment was based on the recommendations of the Tandon Committee, the National Police Commission (1977-1981), and the Ministry of Home Affairs Taskforce (1985).
  • It is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • NCRB acts as a “national warehouse” for the fingerprint records of both Indian and foreign criminals. It assists in locating interstate criminals through fingerprint searches.

About the National Menstrual Hygiene Policy:

  • In 2023, India formulated this policy to recognize menstruation as a natural process requiring meaningful attention. The policy aims to ensure equity in the safe and dignified management of menstrual hygiene.
  • It prioritises ensuring that all menstruating individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic status and geographical location, have equal opportunities to access and manage their menstruation safely and hygienically.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs, which influences menstrual hygiene management in prisons, is overlooked as a critical stakeholder in the policy.

The key challenge of the policy is that it identifies prisoners as a target population with compromised access to menstrual hygiene facilities but lacks a concrete action plan to enhance menstrual hygiene management in prisons.

Other Government Initiatives to Improve Menstrual Health and Hygiene (MHH) in India

  • Integration of MHH into ASHA’s Role (2005-2010): The government integrated menstrual health and hygiene into the responsibilities of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) as part of the National Rural Health Mission.
  • Menstrual Hygiene Scheme (MHS) Launched (2010): India initiated the Menstrual Hygiene Scheme (MHS) to distribute sanitary napkins to young girls.
  • Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram Programme (2010): This program, under the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health scheme, increased awareness and access to sanitary pads.
  • Menstrual Hygiene Management Guidelines Issued (2011-2015): In 2011, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued menstrual hygiene management guidelines. Additional directions were issued by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in 2015.
  • Nirmal Bharat Yatra and Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (2012): The Nirmal Bharat Yatra, a flagship sanitation program, included MHH as an integral aspect of its agenda. Simultaneously, other similar programs under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan began, including initiatives to promote sanitary napkin vending machines and incinerators for safe disposal.
  • WASH targets for prisons:

Way Forward:

  • Ensure Basic Standards of Menstrual Hygiene: The Indian government must guarantee that basic standards of menstrual hygiene for women in captivity are met consistently across all prisons.
  • Implement Model Prison Manual 2016: The government must ensure that all States adhere to the recommendations outlined in the manual, which includes provisions for adequate water and washroom facilities for female prisoners.

Mains PYQ:

Q In order to enhance the prospects of social development, sound and adequate health care policies are needed particularly in the fields of geriatric and maternal health care. Discuss. (UPSC IAS/2020)

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