After a college student in Bihar was humiliated by an IAS officer over her query to subsidise the rates of sanitary pads, a Delhi-based firm has decided to provide her free napkins for a year, as well as bear the expenses of her education until graduation.
Chirag Pan, CEO of PAN healthcare private limited, the Delhi-based sanitary pad manufacturing company, said: “Menstrual hygiene has been considered a taboo subject discussed in hushed voices for generations. This must change. We need many more girls to come forward and boldly demand open discussions about period bleeding. We salute Riya’s courage to speak up on this subject on a public platform with confidence.
“A year’s supply of Everteen’s neem and safflower sanitary pads is just a small token of our appreciation for her conviction to put an end to the bloody hypocrisy around menstruation that pervades society at large. We will also bear the cost of her education fees through her graduation.”
Speaking to IANS, Riya Kumari, the 20-year-old student, said: “My question was not wrong. I can afford the cost of sanitary napkins but there are many poor girls who can’t afford it. It seems that the Madam (IAS Harjot Kaur Bamhrah) took it another way. It may be possible that she might try to make us self dependent and not dependent on the government.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav said: “The Bihar government is providing Rs 300 to every girl under the ‘Kanya Utthan’ programme. The brave girl demanded the sanitary pad at the cost of Rs 20 to Rs 30 while the government is providing Rs 25 per month. It may be possible that the girl and the officer were not aware of it.”
At a “Sashakt Beti Samridh Bihar” event, the student asked Bamhrah that when the government is providing school dress, scholarship, bicycles and many other facilities to students, can’t it provide sanitary pads for Rs 20 to 30 to girl students. The question was applauded by the participants.
But the IAS officer hit out at the query and said that people are clapping over the question but these are endless demands. “Today, the government would provide you with sanitary pads for Rs 20 to Rs 30. Then you ask for jeans, pants and then, beautiful shoes,” she said, but did not stop there.
“When it comes to family planning, will the government give condoms to you. Why would I have a habit of taking everything free from the government? What is the need of it?”
At that, the student said the government comes to them to seek their votes. Bamhrah angrily replied that “this is the height of stupidity. You don’t vote and go to Pakistan. You are giving a vote to take money and facilities from the government”.
Following the incident, Bamhrah faced huge criticism and she eventually apologised to the girl. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also said that he would take action against the IAS officer.