Period, an added worry for migrant women on the move

They hope their menstrual cycle begins after they reach home as there are no toilets along highways & they can’t afford to buy pads

Published: 27th May 2020 10:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th May 2020 10:27 AM   |  A+A-

The travel kits given to migrant women workers at Medchal.

The travel kits given to migrant women workers at Medchal.

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Menstrual hygiene and sanitation have become a major cause of concern for many women migrant workers and their adolescent girls as they head back to their hometowns either on foot or in cramped trucks. With no washrooms along highways and insufficient money to buy sanitary napkins, they hope that they get their next period only after they reach home. “We started out from Bengaluru and spent 10 days already on the road, hitching rides with trucks,” Lakshmi, a single mother of three girls hailing from Chhattisgarh, said. 

Since they have been mostly travelling on highways, where shops are closed due to the Covid lockdown, Lakshmi could not buy sanitary napkins for her daughter. Like them, many migrant women labourers, who only recently started to use cotton pads during their menstrual cycle, are forced to use unsanitised cloth pieces. “I can manage with cloth, but my daughter is finding it difficult as she always used sanitary pads. We have to walk so much and there is no privacy for us to change,” Lakshmi said. What makes it worse is the limited or, sometimes, no access to running water. “We use one bottle of water to relieve ourselves behind the bushes. Washing the cloth is impossible as there is not enough water,” Lakshmi’s 16-year-old daughter said. 

Travel kits not enough
Spurthi Kolipaka, a social worker who works on hygiene and sanitation issues, said while women in rural areas traditionally use cloth, this works only when one is stationary and has access to adequate water. The Women Development and Child Welfare Department had set up a counter at the Medchal transit point, where it distributed travel kits to women and children. The kits comprised soaps and sanitary pads. But the workers still feel that highways without toilets is a major concern that needs to be addressed. 

“We got two pads in the kit, after which we will go back to using cloth. We hope our menstrual cycle starts after we reach home because we have no clue when our truck will stop and if there will be enough water to even drink,” Sushmita, a brick kiln worker from Orissa, said. Kolipaka said police  stations along highways could help ensure the supply  of sanitary pads to the women. “Police chowkis along highways must look into supplying good number of pads so that the women do not contract infections, such as UTI, during their journey,” she said.


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