19 November, 2018

Blog

Menstrual Hygiene, A Necessity Not A Luxury

By Amita Arudpragasam

Amita Arudpragasam

Of 4.2 million menstruating women in Sri Lanka, only 30% use disposable sanitary napkins.[1]Given the stigma surrounding menstruation, many Sri Lankans – including policy makers – are unaware of the impacts of poor menstrual hygiene management (MHM). [2]This is worrying because poor MHM poses significant health risks including urogenital infections and cervical cancer. Additionally, poor MHM may adversely impact female educational performance and female labour force participation.

The problem is not that Sri Lankan women don’t know that menstrual hygiene is important or that they don’t know how to practice better menstrual hygiene.[3]Menstrual health products, like sanitary napkins, are simply too expensive. Indeed, as noted below, the annual cost of good menstrual health management can equal the amount the average household would spend on a two-month supply of rice!

On September 19th Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister indicated that sanitary napkins would be exempted from Cess. This is good progress towards making menstrual hygiene products affordable, however eliminating border taxes won’t fully address poor MHM. By itself, this policy may only advantage a wealthy subset of Sri Lankan women. To impact lower and middle-income households, I recommend the government also exempt sanitary napkins from the Value Added Tax (VAT) and Nation Building Tax (NBT). I further recommend the government provide subsidised menstrual hygiene products to women who cannot afford them.

Health Risks 

The health risks associated with poor MHM include bacterial vaginosis (BV) and urinary tract infection (UTI).[4]A 2017 hospital-based cross sectional study shows that the incidence of UTIs in Sri Lanka is increasing and that increasing resistance is likely to add a significant burden to Sri Lanka’s health budget. UTIs, while common, should not be taken lightly. If untreated, microbes can spread from the urinary tract and cause permanent damage to the kidneys.[5]Cases of BV, another health risk associated with poor MHM, reportedly doubled in Sri Lanka between 2006 and 2010.[6]Numerous studies show that women with BV may be at higher risk of early or preterm birth, loss of pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease and the acquisition of sexually transmitted infections.

Studies also consider poor menstrual hygiene a risk factor for cervical cancer[7]- which incidentally, is the second-most common type of cancer for Sri Lankan women.[8]According to the HPV Information Center, “current estimates indicate that every year 1721 [Sri Lankan] women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 690 die from the disease.”

A controlled study of 486 women concludes that, compared to women using disposable pads, women who used reusable absorbent pads were more likely to have symptoms of urogenital infection or to be diagnosed with at least one urogenital infection. Gynaecologists recommend products such as disposable sanitation napkins (pads), tampons or cups for better menstrual hygiene. Because such products are intimately linked to a woman’s well-being, they are not ordinary consumer goods, but ought to be considered necessities.

Menstrual Hygiene is currently a Luxury

Of the 70% of menstruating Sri Lankan women who do not use disposable sanitary napkins[9]many will use semi-hygienic reusable alternatives such as cloths or rags. Why? Despite useful programs to raise sexual health awareness, including by the UN, many women cannot afford better sanitary products.

Indeed, buying domestically manufactured pads can cost 1.2 – 3.7 % of an individual’s income.[10]Good menstrual hygiene management requires a change of sanitary napkins every 2 – 6 hours for the 3 – 6 days per month that a woman menstruates.[11]A domestically manufactured sanitary napkin costs Rs. 11.5, while its imported counterpart costs Rs. 22.[12]This means that every year a menstruating female must spend at least Rs. 1656 on sanitary napkins if her flow is light and cycle short, or Rs. 4968 if her flow is slightly heavier and cycle longer.[13](Imported products, which are twice as expensive, were not included in this calculation). A woman with a heavy menstrual flow and longer cycle can thus expect her annual expenditure on menstrual hygiene products to equal the amount her entire household would spend on a two-month supply of rice![14]

Women living in rural areas will be most impacted by high-cost sanitary products – not just because household incomes are lower in these areas. Poor sanitation and water access in rural areas can make washing reusable alternatives for women extremely difficult.[15]  When reusable alternatives are not properly washed and dried, the impacts on health are severe.

Other reasons the State should care

Aside from the aforementioned health risks, poor MHM should be of concern to the state for three other reasons:

Impact on Education:Menstrual hygiene products can improve pain management and prevent staining. In a survey of adolescent Sri Lankan girls slightly more than a third claimed to miss school because of menstruation; 68% – 81% cited pain and physical discomfort and 23% – 40% cited fear of staining clothes to explain why. Extrapolating from these results, Sri Lankan girls loose (very conservatively) approximately 1.3 million learning days every year.[16]And school absenteeism may only be one way in which educational performance is impacted. This study suggests that poor MHM may impact concentration and engagement, even if girls do go to school.

Impact on female labour force participation:Sri Lanka’s low female labour force participation rate (35.9%) is predicted to cost the country 20 Billion USD by 2025.[17][18]While cheaper menstrual hygiene products will not completely fix low labour participation rates, they are still critical from an economic perspective. For example, a study on apparel sector workers in Bangladesh found that providing subsidized menstrual hygiene products resulted in a drop in absenteeism and an increase in productivity. Because employees in the Sri Lankan apparel sector are also predominantly women, access to cheaper menstrual products can help this sector be more productive.

Normative Obligations: Many evidence-based studies demonstrate that shame, insecurity, anxiety and fear of stigma are correlated with menstruation. Menstrual cramps can already be painful, but when a woman cannot afford basic menstrual hygiene, she faces additional indignity and embarrassment. Activists have begun to reframe access to menstrual hygiene products as an issue of human rights. When menstrual hygiene is unaffordable the right to healthcare, education and work is effectively impeded. Although access to healthcare in Sri Lanka is not a judicially enforceable constitutional right, it is a directive principle of state policy.[19]The constitution thus recognizes the state’s normative obligation to provide healthcare to its citizens. Currently, menstrual hygiene – a prerequisite for good health –  is the reserve of the Sri Lankan upper class.

Policy Recommendation: How to make menstrual hygiene affordable

In the last decade, several countries have begun to exempt sanitary products from taxes.[20]For example, this November, a Delhi high court noted that sanitary napkins were a necessity rather than a luxury. India’s Goods and Services Council subsequently exempted sanitary napkins from the year-old goods and services tax regime in July 2018.

Exempting products from taxes is not alien to Sri Lankan practice either. Under certain conditions, cigarettes and liquor are exempt from NBT.[21]Items like helicopters and designer pens are exempt from VAT. And the Inland Revenue Department’s Schedule of Tax Exempt Goods and Services often contains several health-related items including non-cosmetic drugs and pharmaceutical products. Wheel chairs, hearing aids, and spectacle frames are also VAT-exempt.[22]

This memo outlines three possible ways to make menstrual hygiene more affordable:

1) Eliminate Cess and PAL 

Sanitary napkins are either imported or domestically manufactured. Due to border taxes, imported napkins can be twice as expensive as domestically manufactured napkins. Domestically manufactured napkins are subject to a VAT of 15 percent and NBT of 2 percent. Imported napkins, however, are also subject to a general import duty of 30 percent, import Cess of 30 percent and a Port and Airport Development Levy (PAL) of 7.5 percent. Advocata Institute notes, “imported sanitary napkins and tampons in Sri Lanka are taxed at over 100% their landed cost.”

While a general duty exemption may be difficult to negotiate, the government could relatively easily exempt imported menstrual hygiene products from PAL and Cess. Indeed, the government recently announced plans to eliminate Cess. Assuming prices fall by the same amount as the exemptions (i.e. a 100% pass-through), imported napkin prices will fall by approximately 22.4% from Rs. 22 to Rs. 17 per napkin.[23]However, if the resultant price of imported napkins remains higher than the price of domestically manufactured napkins, this policy approach will only benefit the small subset of wealthier women who could already afford more expensive imported napkins.

One could counter that reducing border taxes will increase local market competition and so lower the price of domestically manufactured napkins – but this is not guaranteed. Indeed, assuming a competitive market, lowering border taxes can have one of several unpredictable knock-on effects. For example, domestic manufacturers may: 1) exit the market, 2) improve the quality of their products, 3) lower the price of their products, or 4) not alter their behaviour at all. An indirect price reduction is thus not guaranteed. If the price of domestically manufactured pads does not change, the impact on the average Sri Lankan woman is of little consequence. The cheaper domestically manufactured pads that were unaffordable before the border tax exemption will still be unaffordable.

2) Eliminate VAT and NBT 

While exempting sanitary napkins from PAL/Cess can indirectlyreduce the price of domestically manufactured napkins, a VAT and NBT will directlyreduce the prices of these products. Assuming 100% pass-through, VAT and NBT tax exemptions can lower the price of domestically manufactured sanitary napkins by approximately 17% from Rs.11.5 to Rs. 9.55.[24]This price reduction will encourage at least some women that were previously unable to afford sanitary napkins to start buying napkins. Together with the removal of border taxes, new firms (local and international) will be encouraged to enter the market for sanitary napkins. This increased competition can further drive down the prices of sanitary napkins.

Opponents of this policy may argue that lowering taxes will cause a significant drop in government revenue. However, given that that so few women currently buy menstrual hygiene products – any resultant loss of government revenue is likely to be minimal.[25]In any case, the long run health, educational and labour losses the country will incur if women do not practice better menstrual hygiene outweigh any such losses.

3) Provide subsidized products to low-income households

Some women may not be able to afford sanitary napkins even if the above tax policies drive prices to Rs.10 or below per napkin. If the government wants to impact these women, it can sell subsidized menstrual hygiene products in Lanka Sathosa outlets, provide free products in schools (particularly where there is poor access to water) and to low-income families who are already registered for social welfare schemes such as Samurdhi. This approach allows the government to promote eco-friendly and biodegradable products that limit the amount of waste created.[26]

Such approach is not without precedent, particularly since there is increasing global awareness about the risks associated with poor menstrual hygiene. For example, the Indian government began selling subsidized biodegradable sanitary napkins in May this year at INR 2.5 per pad. In June 2017 Eva announced a campaign to distribute free sanitary napkins to women in rural regions in partnership with the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs and the National Child Protection Authority of Sri Lanka. Such programs must be institutionalized, as part of state policy, to have long-term impacts.[27]

From a normative standpoint, it is clear why good menstrual hygiene shouldn’t be a luxury good available only to a select group of women. From a practical standpoint, this article demonstrates how the entire country can benefit when menstrual hygiene becomes affordable.

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank the Census and Statistics Department for promptly providing retail data, the Sri Lankan industry experts who shared their knowledge, and Chris Avery and Ben Waltmann for their invaluable insights on taxation theory.

Full version: https://aarudpra.wordpress.com/2018/09/21/menstrual-hygiene-a-necessity-not-a-luxury/

Endnotes:

[1]https://roar.media/english/life/in-the-know/menstrual-waste-taxes-and-cups-the-impact-of-bleeding-in-srilanka/

[2]This author prefers to use the term menstrual healthmanagement, to emphasize the health risks associated with poor management of menstruation. She also recognizes that “hygiene” is often associated with impurity or uncleanliness and may reinforce existing stereotypes surrounding menstruation. However, because ‘hygiene’ is the term used frequently often in this literature, the author regretfully reproduces it in order to prevent confusion.

[3]Page 34, 35 of UNICEF’S KAPB study notes, “knowledge about menstrual hygiene, in terms of maintaining hygiene during menstruation, was high among adolescent girl students. The key reasons cited for bathing during menstruation were cleanliness, keeping free of germs and prevention of infections.” Indeed, over 85% of adolescent girls surveyed accepted that it was important to maintain hygiene during menstruation (periods) to prevent infections.

[4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488331/

[5]https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/1150097

[6]Bacterial Vaginosis: Global Status, by Gideon Informatics, Inc. Dr. Stephen Berger.

[7]Also see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14716127

[8]http://www.sundaytimes.lk/170625/news/a-vaccination-to-prevent-cervical-cancer-246620.html

[9]https://roar.media/english/life/in-the-know/menstrual-waste-taxes-and-cups-the-impact-of-bleeding-in-srilanka/

[10]Median per capita monthly income is Rs. 11,307 based on page 9 of the “Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2016.”

[11]Exact figures will depend on individual flows, but the parameters used here are based on Menstrual Hygiene Management Guidelines published by the UNICEF

[12]On September 8th2018, imported Whisper napkins cost Rs. 22 per napkin (440 Rs. for 20 napkins), while domestically manufactured Eva napkins cost Rs. 11.5 per napkin (230 Rs. for 20 napkins). These brands were used to model prices as they are market leaders in the imported and domestic categories respectively.

[13]Light flow is defined here as a woman who menstruates 3 days a week and requires a new pad every 6 hours (4 pads a day), while heavy flow and long cycle is defined as a woman who menstruates 6 days a week and requires a new pad every 4 hours (6 pads per day).

[14]The average monthly household expenditure on rice in 2016 was Rs. 2,452. See Table H2 in the “Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2016.” A two-month supply of rice would cost this household Rs. 4904. As established previously, a woman with heavy flow and long cycle must spend Rs. 4968 per year to maintain good menstrual hygiene.

[15]According to a 2016 Word Bank study, unlike in urban areas, where piped water supply is the norm, less than 15 percent of Sri Lanka’s rural population has access to piped water, and the rest continue to experience the inconveniences associated with fetching water either from dug wells in the yard or from a distance (pg 21).  Further, while 90% of urban and rural populations have access to toilet facilities within their premises, in rural regions there is a higher possibility of polluted groundwater in the household compound given the number of individually constructed toilets across rural Sri Lanka (pg 30).

[16]The 1.1298 million figure is based on conservative calculations. Figures used in calculations are based on the 2002 School and Census Report (which records that there are 991,063 adolescent girls or girls in grade 7 and above), the UNICEF KAPB study (which notes that of these adolescent girls, 38% or 376,604 will miss at least one day of school per month), and the author’s projection of the number of school days these girls will miss per year (very conservatively taken as 3 school days missed per year, given school holidays).

[17]According to the Department of Census and Statistics’ 2015 Labour Force Survey data, of the working age population, only 35.9% of females were engaged in the labour market, compared to nearly 75% of males. (see: http://www.ips.lk/talkingeconomics/2017/07/27/women-in-the-sri-lankan-workforce-dissecting-education-and-female-labour-force-participation/)

[18]See: https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Featured%20Insights/Gender%20Equality/The%20power%20of%20parity%20Advancing%20womens%20equality%20in%20Asia%20Pacific/MGI-The-power-of-parity-Advancing-womens-equality-in-Asia-pacific-Full-report.ashx

[19]Article 27 2 (c) of Sri Lanka’s constitution notes that, “the realization by all citizens of an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing, the continual improvement of living conditions and the full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural opportunities.” Sri Lanka also ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on 11 June 1980.

[20]In 2000, the UK reduced VAT on sanitary napkins. In 2004, Kenya repealed its VAT on pads and tampons to lower the cost for consumers. Nigeria and Mauritius followed suit. In 2015, Canada repealed a Federal tax on tampons. And since 2016, 24 of 40 US States have eliminated taxes on menstrual products.

[21]http://www.ird.gov.lk/en/Type%20of%20Taxes/SitePages/nation%20building%20tax(nbt).aspx

[22]Ibid.

[23]Price projections are modelled on imported Whisper napkins, which cost Rs. 22 per napkin. See table for calculations and assumptions.

[24]Price projections are modelled on imported Eva napkins, which cost Rs.11.5 per napkin. See table for calculations and assumptions.

[25]Assuming that of the 1.26 million women who use pads, 70% of women have light flow (144 pads per year) and the rest have heavy flow (432 pads per year), about 290 million pads will be bought every year. Because NBT + VAT account for Rs. 1.48 per napkin, then the total government revenue lost as a result of this policy will be approximately Rs. 430 million.

[26]To learn more about the waste created as a result of disposable sanitary napkins, see: https://roar.media/english/life/in-the-know/menstrual-waste-taxes-and-cups-the-impact-of-bleeding-in-srilanka/

[27]The Ministry Women & Child Affairs did not respond to requests for details on the duration of this initiative, the cost, and the number of households impacted.

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

    • 4
      8

      Leaving all aside, let s talk about MENSURAL HYGIENE right ?

      Srilanka is sinking- leaders having us being betrayed.

      Not a single high men were yet jailed for all the high profile money grabs deliberatey made by them.
      But until yesterday, they have become the heroes to MEDIA runners.
      My gosh, where are we, and what a BS nation we have been made to.

      • 6
        8

        Buramphisincho,

        Very true, agree with you. You will get too many down votes on CT because the author name sounds Tamil for obvious reasons on CT :-)

    • 7
      2

      Solution is: Govt. and Sri Lanka pharm companies should have a PPP to manufacture high quality pads for Lankan women in Sri Lanka and save precious foreign exchange!
      But what should be done is banning of import of luxury cars and SUVs for ALL politicians. Corrupt politicians are the reason that taxes to go up on pads!
      But this long story about Cess tax and Pads sounds like more Fake news — to promote neoliberal trade liberalization through the back door, given that all our economist, civil society and academics seem to have abdicated responsibility to stop the suicidal trade policies that Jarapalanaya govt is pursing as manifest in crashing Lankan rppee now at 170, and rising according hairdresser Mangala!.
      Recently another fake news story went around that Sri Lanka is Not an open economy from the Washington MCC-IMF and Japans’ ADB funded Fake think tanks LKI and ADvocata Institute

    • 2
      1

      Solution is: SL Govt. and local pharma companies should have a PPP to MANUFACTURE high quality pads for Lankan women in Sri Lanka, and save precious foreign exchange!
      But what should be done is banning of import of luxury cars and SUVs for ALL politicians. Corrupt politicians’ greed for Japanese and SU cars are the reason that taxes went up on pads! Ask our hairdresser economist Mangala if this is not true?

      But this long story about Cess tax and Pads sounds like more Fake news — to promote a neo-liberal narrative and trade liberalization through the back door.
      All our economists, civil society organization.and academics seem to have abdicated responsibility to stop the suicidal trade policies that Jarapalanaya govt is pursing as manifest in unfair tax on pads, crashing Lankan rupee now at 170, and rising according hairdresser Mangala!.
      Recently another fake news story went around that Sri Lanka is “Not an open economy” from the Washington MCC-IMF and Japans’ ADB funded Fake think tanks LKI and ADvocata Institute.
      The disasterous Singapore FTA has made the run on the rupee worse as Sri Lanka does not manufacture even pads for its women, but imports them from Singapore now!

    • 7
      1

      Timely article, making aware of necessities and priorities!

    • 7
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      I can just imagine what sort of crude filth this fellow would have written. Thanks CT for removing it.
      .
      If this country really desires to have peace and harmony, Chauvinists and misogynists of this sort of ought to be executed. This fellow deserves it! I don’t know how many times I have seen comments by this fellow extolling the rape followed by murder of Tamil girls, and such like.
      .
      Thank you, Colombo Telegraph editors.
      .
      By the way, I have yet to read the other comments. I thought the article excellent, although not the sort of thing I usually read. I did notice a couple of slips, but what the hell! 100% marks!

  • 5
    14

    Few days back, one girl came up to discuss about FGM, now another with menstrual hygiene – Why don’t you all create a Facebook page or a group to discuss all these among yourselves and leave us alone?

  • 2
    12

    When an average girl can afford VAT & NBT daily for her lipsticks, why not on an important napkin for few days in a month? Real issue is awareness, willingness and not giving priority.

    • 13
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      @ fathima/ Here the topic is not average girls this about marginalized girls or girls as a whole.

      • 3
        5

        Fahim,

        Average girl is defined as:
        Simple girl living ordinary life: not so special nor extraordinary. She is just simple. With no class – high fashion, public status , not popular but can be outgoing.

        Are you saying this article excludes those above?

        “about marginalized girls or girls as a whole” – How come these both can mean the same?

        Facing a “3 months crash course” issue? Go blame SWRD..he.he

      • 9
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        Oh Fahim, yea man those 5 days happens only to marginalized girls and other are leek-sealed. Now let’s talk about real marginalized girls…MMDA victioms please?

  • 4
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    Clothes are so cheap these days, what is wrong with reverting to old ‘pankada’ method instead of making big multinatonals producing these napkins rich? That takes women staying home during those few days and looking after themselves with regular changes of the rags. Think national, rather than international people!

    • 13
      2

      Your name should not be Premawathie, it should be Madawathie.
      .
      I am sure you are not within the affected class of people the writer is talking about, so what do you care!
      .
      You want to stop International companies rich, start by doing away with your daily groceries first, throw away your phone, disconnect your phone lines. Etc. Don’t fly abroad.
      .
      Is any of that practical? It is your type of people ‘crabs’ who weigh down other peoples progress.
      .
      Believe me you are not alone ww have so many animals like you with the same mindset in this country.

      • 1
        4

        This idiot has not understood the message.

        Your loud cry is a sign that you may be passing that time of the month yourself. So find some rags and wear an ‘amude’ so that it doesn’t drip, like from your mouth and hand.

        Stupid idiot.

    • 0
      1

      LOL

  • 14
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    Being a husband being a father for a daughter i truly agree in removing all sorts of taxes on sanitary napkins. I kindly ask all the women related Organizations and associations to join hands and put an end to this high prices on sanitary napkins. This is a basic need of every women in srilanka and if the government can spend millions and billions on thamasha’s why can’t they do this basic thing right.

    So i kindly ask all the womens related associations to join hands and come together and protest on this matter and get a permanent solutions for all the women in Srilanka.

    • 3
      5

      N.Viswanath,

      For working women, those organizations both private and public should give special allowances to buy these pads or stay at home days.

      For school girls, Govt should give this allowance along with clothing allowance.

      For housewives, husbands should be able to afford it, or they should not come in public and cry like you..

  • 1
    4

    Eliminate VAT and NBT

    For the past 1000 they manage when there was no pharmacies use white cotton cloth
    you will not have pad rashes small baby use napkin home made how it is managed and there wearing 24 hours for 3 years, all knows of sanitation management Shoppers promote pads not due to the caring of Hygiene for money making stop buying price will go do

    Same socks required one’s attention without losing one’s respect.,

  • 5
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    In India, manufacture of ‘sanitary napkins’ is now a cottage industry.
    We could do the same in Sri Lanka.

    https://www.google.ca/search?source=hp&ei=GxSmW7afA4jTjwSHmqawAg&q=india+sanitary+napkin+cottage+industry&oq=India+sanitary+napkins+cottage+industry&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.33i22i29i30k1.8342.38007.0.41680.39.37.0.2.2.0.111.3414.25j12.37.0….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..0.38.3398…0j0i131k1j0i3k1j0i10k1j0i22i30k1j0i22i10i30k1j0i8i13i30k1j33i21k1j33i160k1j33i10k1.0.pSbvIqI88ZY

  • 3
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    Feel sorry for ladies who are born ladies .
    It I
    It is nature’s beauty .
    Take it as it is ..
    But humanity should do all what can do to help these ladies until they reach 55 years old …when it stops

    • 0
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      Lankan

      Don’t you know?

      Die hard women for equality are experimenting to pass 50% of the burden to men.

      It’s no joke mister.

  • 5
    4

    I do not mean to be facetious or belittle the very valid points made by the writer regarding the issue of MHM. However, while ‘price’ may well be an important contributory factor that influences the decision of females to use or not to use sanitary napkins, there are unfortunately other more pragmatic reasons that drive their decision in this regard.
    Firstly, the relatively low proportion of nubile females who wear panties regularly.
    Secondly, the problem of disposing used sanitary napkins.
    Both issues are circumvented by the use of reusable alternatives such as rags.

  • 3
    13

    I hate Tamils

    • 9
      2

      Sigiri.
      You are absolutely off topic. “Koheda yanne, malle pol!”

  • 3
    8

    This is Sri Lanka. Our women have dealt with this ‘problem’ for centuries. We do not want western solutions please. We have our own ways and systems.

    • 1
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      Nimalka Fernand

      Really;

      There’s a way to cork/uncork?

  • 5
    9

    Such a sensitive issue Arudpragasam should not have discussed publicly.

  • 1
    3

    It is difficult to dispose sanitary pads in the rural areas. Garbage collectors are rarely seen in these areas. It is not easy to dig pits to bury them as most rural homes doesn’t have that space.

    Also is it biodegradable?

  • 3
    6

    In Chrisitanity we were taught man is superior to woman. The reading of Arulpragasam article personified this.

  • 4
    1

    Amita Arudpragasam,

    I expected girls come forward to discuss how they can be leaders and take revenge on men to create create a matriarchy. But good to know that you guys are still struggling to manage at the very first step being girls.. :-(

  • 3
    2

    Estate Labourer I agree. But I have to say what I have to say

  • 1
    4

    Dont waste time on a wastage item

  • 4
    0

    I’m glad I’m not a woman

  • 3
    4

    Those sanitary napkins and others have absorbent chemicals in them…..can’t be too good for the body….also not good for the environment, all the plastics and chemicals. Best is the old fashioned grandmother way of cloth napkins, and washed with soap and water.

    • 3
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      But please don’t want to see them hanging in clothe line along with other dresses

  • 3
    5

    Arudpragasam, mensturation is a normal thing. Women have to learn to live with it or are you blaming us men for that too. Blame God.

  • 2
    6

    Estate Labourer,

    My grandmum told me only good tamil is the dead tamil

  • 3
    7

    It is JR who allowed Tamils to come and live in Colombo. They have outnumbered Sinhalese. Lots are illegal migrants from Tamilnadu (Kallathonis)

  • 10
    0

    Thank you Amita Arudpragasam for the well researched article on Menstrual Hygiene.

    Most of the commenters have shown how illiterate they are on this very important issue. Unfortunately they have not read the article.
    Please do not let these bigots deter you.

    • 7
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      Hi, K. Pillai,
      .
      I agree that it s a very good article, and I think that I’m getting more and more convinced that you are very good man.
      .
      I read this only today; it seemed a bit prurient to be reading this, but I agree that it is a really good article, well-researched. It is a subject that has to concern all of us “of mothers born”, and whom we have helped to create new life.
      .
      I’m shocked that even when dealing with such an article people get racist. Some of our people are worse than I had imagined.
      .
      Pollution is something that causes concern; should never be flushed down toilet seems to be something requiring more emphasis. But then, nobody seems really concerned about all the plastic pollution. So much of it can be re-cycled – another thing that can be subsidised, since postponing could cost so much more.
      .
      Amita Arudpragasam, that was a good one: helicopters tax free – but is that really true? Isn’t there a mistake in note 13? “a woman who menstruates 3 days a week” – shouldn’t that be lunar month – or something like that. Don’t know, never having menstruated! Also: loose – adjective – final sound “s”. Verb: lose, sound, “z”, which has past tense lost.

  • 3
    12

    The way Mano Ganeshan, Digambaran, Tondaman et al spreading Tamilism Tamils will be 40% in no time

    • 7
      0

      Chick Nugera,
      .
      Part One
      .
      There’s no point our resenting Colonialism; had historical developments been different, it may have been some other group than Europeans who would have spread out over the world, preyed on other groups, and reduced the most unfortunate to slavery. You, Nugera, have a Burgher name and you should be grateful that you are tolerated here!
      .
      However, these are issues that have to be dealt with exercising much greater sensitivity than probably you are capable of. It is after seeing your ugly comment that I spent a few minutes hunting up some facts on the web. Please don’t imagine that what I’m now saying stems from real knowledge of the subject or from some set ideas that I have.
      .
      For me, one fact clearly stands out: human population throughout the world has been growing exponentially since Medicine began extending our disgusting lives. Homo sapiens display more nastiness and selfishness than any other living beings. Consider first this passage from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels:
      .
      https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/807158-my-little-friend-grildrig-you-have-made-a-most-admirable
      .
      or, better, read at least the 6th Chapter of BookII.
      .
      Also consider what Richard Dawkins has said in this book, which is summarised here:
      .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Selfish_Gene
      .
      Guys like you often think of yourself as educated. So, then, read and think before spewing nastiness.

      • 2
        0

        Most interesting. I googled for this “Nugera” surname. I had not thought of it as “Sinhalese” , and still don’t:
        .
        https://forebears.io/surnames/nugera
        .
        The guy who bears the guy had better explain it, since he’s such a racist that he wants t chase others out.

      • 8
        0

        Sinhala_Man

        Please note a Tamil Nadu man had invented a new method of locally manageable cost effective production method for sanitary towels/napkins from locally available organic raw materials.

        Please read the news item below:
        The Indian sanitary pad revolutionary
        By Vibeke Venema
        BBC World Service

        A school dropout from a poor family in southern India has revolutionised menstrual health for rural women in developing countries by inventing a simple machine they can use to make cheap sanitary pads.
        Please read the long article available at:
        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26260978

        We will have to oppose it because it is an Indian invention even though it will benefit millions of women and girls.

        KAS, soma, Lal Loo the compulsive liar, Eagle Blind Eye, Wimal Sangili Karuppan, …………. Shenali Waduge, Champa, sach the stupid, HL:DM, ……………….. will see conspiracy under every sanitary towel, which they believe destabilises this island as if the island is stable.

        • 2
          1

          Dear NV,
          .
          Do you want only to oppose it because it was an Indian invention?
          .
          We must actively fight against this project because it was invented by a guy from Tamil Nadu. In fact we must fight mildly against anything produced by foreigners.
          .
          If we find that the foreigners are actually Tamils, we must totally destroy all Tamil businesses. NV, I’m most disappointed in your lack of patriotism.

          • 3
            0

            Sinhala_Man

            I agree.
            Please read the BBC news item.

            • 2
              0

              Thanks, NV,

              I hope others, too will read that article.
              .
              I had read it long ago, and was struck by Muruganantham’s sensitivity to his wife’s problems. In trying to comment on this, I have turned everything in to bold – thereby defeating the very purpose of using this highlighting device.
              .
              I have now tried to undo that inadvertent vandalism.
              .
              I also hope that many will read that article. I was being sarcastic, of course, which, I’m sure NV realised, but it is often not so obvious to all readers
              .
              .Using anything other than plain simple statements is sometimes dangerous.

          • 1
            0

            Sorry my attempt to undo bold yesterday hadn’t worked. Trying again.

    • 4
      0

      Chick Nugera
      .
      Part Two
      .
      What you have said is not borne out by facts and statistics:
      .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Sri_Lanka
      .
      Study census figures, in detail from 1881 to date – almost. All groups must control population. Actually, I think that even thinking of “groups” is one of nastinesses that is sinking our country: think, rather of individual responsibility.
      .
      Numbers are increasing unsustainably. You are obsessed with proportions. Well, the Sinhalese and “Buddhist” proportions have been increasing – not decreasing. Despite the handle that I use, I don’t like such labelling.
      .
      There has been an increase in Muslim percentages – not huge, but worrying, since it stems from male Muslim selfishness, paucity of education for Muslim females, and early marriage. It is for these reasons that many of us, including non_Muslims, are asking that the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act should at least be amended if not entirely abolished.
      .
      All this crude talk when discussing a sensitive subject relating to women. So many of us men obviously have dirty minds, and don’t know how to treat the other sex with respect. Yes, it is our minds that are dirty not the clean blood that has to flow out of a womb owing to the system of human reproduction.
      .
      If nothing else, did you have no respect for the mother who bore you?

  • 4
    2

    Thank you for widening men’s knowledge about menstrual hygiene.

    Hope they’ll be supportive towards their women folk through better understanding.

    There’s something to mention about advertising sanitary towels on TV. Some ads really embarrass elders; both men & women, when watching with family members; especially with kids.

    It’s good to find another way to make them informative rather than showing a playful woman in short skirt.
    It might be found inappropriate by rural folks thus depriving women of having a quality product for their purpose.

  • 13
    1

    Thank you CT and thank you to the author. I.don’t understand how normal natural body processes can lead to absurd comments here. This is in fact a very basic necessity and directly impacts productivity and health of all women. There is an abysmal lack of awareness. This article is a very serious attempt to highlight how society ignores and even tries to ridicule female health issues.

  • 1
    7

    They have the money to buy only brand name shampoos, brand name skin lotions, brand name white-skin creams and they have money to go and lavishly spend at Colombo City Centre.

    But they don’t have the money for the most needed female product.

    • 9
      0

      Please re-read the article, Shamal Perera.
      .
      The point you make has been clearly addressed by the author. She has the poorest sections of the population in mind. They don’t go anywhere near the “Colombo City Centre”.
      .
      Apart from that, I find your comment more civilised than usual.

  • 1
    4

    Pannie amudey, the primitive style is the best …environment friendly recyclable.

    • 3
      0

      roy,
      .
      Environment friendly is true of bits of cloth. However, what Amita Arudpragasam has argued powerfully is that such practices are not easy to combine with what is expected of women owing to today’s life-style.
      .
      Some old beliefs are wrong, whatever the setting. For instance, among the Sinhalese (I just don’t know what other groups believe in such matters) it used to be held that menstruating women should not bathe. That is totally false. I checked that out because I have two daughters and two grand-daughters (youngest only 3) who are all pretty good swimmers. Please Google if you want proper medical advice.
      .
      Speaking of sports, when I was teaching in a remote school where all the students were pretty good athletes because they had to walk so far to get to school. The athletics coaches used to say that boys and girls should not bathe while training. I asked some medical specialists – they were horrified by such a view.

      • 0
        1

        Sinhala_man,

        There is absolute truth in the notion that women who menstruate should not bathe. Because in SL, women bathe near wells and water streams. When they bathe while menstruating the water seeps into the soil and gets in contact with water springs.

        In turn the water that is drinking becomes polluted.

  • 1
    2

    I’m Sinhala Catholic. there are 337,931 Nugeras in this world

    Tamils are breeding like rats, as most of them are recent Kallathonis

    • 2
      0

      Dear Chick Nugera,
      .
      I stand corrected on those points. and I am sorry I was a bit harsh and personal with that comment.
      .
      However, I am appalled that racism continues in what you write. You say that you are “Sinhala” and “Catholic”. I know that I also describe myself as Sinhala, but that is because it is my first language – and language not only is given a great deal of importance in this country – and I don’t know the other Swabasha, Tamil – but also language is what has led to well nigh all our national woes.
      .
      I can’t help feeling that given your name, and Catholicism, many of your ancestors are of fairly recent Sri Lankan origin. As far as I’m concerned, that’s no problem. I accept anyone who is a citizen of Sri Lanka as a person who should enjoy rights equal to all others. But what makes you use such racially charged pidgin words as “recent Kallathonis” when commenting on a serious article on a subject that has nothing to do with race. Most of your non-Portuguese ancestors are likely to have been Tamils who came here during the Colonial Period.
      .
      My known ancestors were all from an area a little in-land from Galle – up the Gin Ganga. Likely to be of much less recent origin. But I couldn’t care less how much Dravidian, how much Veddah etc. Of course Vijaya’s band may have contributed a bit – I couldn’t care less.
      .
      And “breeding like rats” – again how unnecessary. The phrase hit the headlines when Pope Francis used something akin to that – to say that we shouldn’t be acting so irresponsibly. Incidentally, the non-racist Portuguese encouraged inter-marriage since they were very interested in spreading Catholicsim. They have succeeded in that, but guys like you seem to be horribly racist.

  • 0
    2

    So you want government to give free sanitary napkins to all women of sri lanka

    • 3
      0

      Dear Bimal Manoda Godahewa,
      .
      It is unwise to give anything free to anyone. For many reasons.
      .
      It is not valued. However, much better give basic requirements, like sanitary napkins would be more sensible than the State presuming to give complicated things like tablets and lap-top computers for free. Why this obsession with laptops? I usually get myself a reconditioned used machine (except the UPS) of good brand, piece by piece; much cheaper, easy to use, and the relatively poor guy who purchases it for his own use will make quite sure that he buys something that suits how personal use. If he makes a mistake, it is a good learning exercise.
      .
      Such things are not usually free. A lot of public money is squandered, and some fellow (politician or senior bureaucrat) makes a packet on it.
      .
      I have had experience of this sort of thing while being in government service. Now that I have retired, I can safely talk, if you’re interested. And we must! Corruption is killing our country.

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