By Adrija Bose
After the success of Tridhara toilet initiative for transgenders, 21-year-old Kolkata boy Sobhan Mukherjee is all set to start his campaign of free sanitary pads in public toilets in the city. This is undoubtedly a positive step towards undertaking menstrual hygiene for a country like India where discussing menstruation is still considered a taboo.
Before we begin, let us ponder for a while. How many of us come forward to make a positive change in our society? At a time when we can only see negative criticism inundating our thinking and discussion, what Sobhan has done is indeed praiseworthy.
Meet Sobhan Mukherjee who after his successful stint with Tridhara toilet for the transgender has turned his attention towards a more generic issue, considered to be a major taboo in India, menstruation.
When The Logical Indian asked him about his new initiative, he said, “It came to my mind when I was working on the Tridhara transgender initiative.” He was travelling to various schools and colleges for his work where he came across the sanitary napkin vending machines set up in the girls’ toilets. He realized that this kind of vending machines can be set up in numerous public toilets across Kolkata.
“I have seen numerous women skipping a day’s work when they are on their periods because of the sole reason that they are scared of being stigmatised or becoming a laughing stock if accidentally their clothes get stained,” he said.
“Period is not a matter of joke and I am equally pained to see people making fun of it on the social media,” he continued.
Although the government has set up sanitary napkin provisions in schools and colleges, he felt that it was not adequate. That is when the idea of stocking up public toilets in Kolkata with sanitary napkins crossed his mind. As his first endeavour, he set up a table loaded with sanitary napkins at a public toilet in Bansdroni area in South Kolkata. Luckily, he got help from the local councillor Anita Kar Mazumdar. He wrote in his Facebook status, “With the permission of Councillor Anita Kar Mazumdar, I have taken this small initiative in a Bansdroni Pay and Use Public Toilet”, at the same time mentioning that this is his small gift to his sisters and friends on the auspicious occasion of Bhaiphonta(Bhai Dooj). He said that he spend Rs 300 from his pocket money and bought sanitary napkins for this purpose.
The way forward
Sobhan believes it is high time to take concrete steps so that our sisters, friends or daughters don’t feel ashamed of stepping outside their homes. Currently, he is planning to buy a packet of sanitary napkin every week. He urges every councillor of every ward to come and stand beside him in his initiative. His endeavor has got huge support from his friends and family. He is optimistic that a day will come when he will be able to set up a public toilet with sanitary napkins on every corner of the country and he will get support from every part of the nation. He adds, “ I hope that I will be able to carry forward with my initiative to every part of the country if our government stands beside me.”
The Logical Indian community applauds the initiative taken by Sobhan for women across Kolkata. His project will also act as a model for other states to take inspiration from. We hope that he succeeds in this endeavour and continues his good work.