Imagine being incarcerated in an Indian prison. Now imagine what it would be like there on your period. No access to sanitary pads or tampons, just a few dirty old rags or pieces of newspaper to soak up the blood, no clean bathroom in which to change, no hot water bottle or comfortable bed to lie down on when a wave of cramps hits, and no painkillers to help you get through the day. Sounds like every woman’s worst nightmare, right?
Well, for the thousands of women imprisoned across India, this is their reality. In a mammoth effort to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene and its importance and to provide safe, clean and affordable sanitary solutions to the women with little or no access to them, GiveHer5 teamed up with SHE Society and launched an initiative to distribute Saafkins and educate the women across 13 prisons in Punjab about their use.
The project began in August last year, with a target of distributing 1500 pairs of Saafkins to the female inmates of prisons in Gurdaspur, Patiala, Nabha, Roopnagar and other cities around the state of Punjab. Till date, 11 jails have been reached with 1150 women, including workers in the prisons have been given a pair of Saafkins, and taught about how to use and wash them, giving each of them safe and clean sanitary protection for an entire year.
Despite the numerous challenges faced to implement this project, not least obtaining permission for members of the SHE Society to visit these prisons and distribute the Saafkins, the project has received a very positive response and we hope to reach our target of helping 1500 women soon.
The value of the project is further highlighted by the heartfelt letters of thanks we received from the mostly male superintendents at each of the prisons that were visited. The letters, written in native Punjabi, express gratitude at being chosen as part of this initiative. The superintendents congratulate GiveHer5 on their efforts and describe how they distributed the Saafkins to the women in their prisons. Each letter ends with a mention of the pride their senders feel at being able to do their part to help the women, spread awareness about menstrual hygiene and protect the environment in the process.
This is a project very close to our hearts and we hope to be able to replicate it in other states across India as well and continue spreading the message of menstrual hygiene awareness throughout the country.