When a girl student asked a senior official why the the government could not provide sanitary pads, a senior woman official rebuked her with, “Tomorrow, you attain the age of family planning and you would expect government to provide Nirodh (condom) too.” A video in which Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Harjot Kaur Bamhrah is purportedly seen and heard responding thus went viral on social media on Wednesday.
Ms. Bamhrah, a 1992 batch IAS officer, is Principal Secretary, Women and Child Welfare Department, and also heads the Bihar Women and Child Development Corporation.
“When the government is providing us school uniform, scholarship and so many things, why can’t it provide Whisper [a brand of sanitary pads] of ₹20-30?” a government school student asks in the video of a ‘ Sashakt Beti, Samridh Bihar (empowered daughters, prosperous Bihar): Towards enhancing the value of girls’ workshop organised by the State Women and Child Development Corporation in association with UNICEF and other organisations.
“There is need to change the mindset. Why [should] the government provide you everything free? Tomorrow you’ll say government can provide jeans and why not some beautiful shoes thereafter? And eventually, at the time of family planning, you will expect government to provide Nirodh [brand of condom] too,” Ms. Bamhrah replies in the video.
When another student tells Ms. Bamhrah about the broken toilet door at her school, which boys could enter, the officer asks her in cool voice, “Tell me, do you have separate toilets at your home for males and females? If you keep asking for lot of things at different places, how will it work?”
Girl students are heard confronting the officer with their expectations in the video. The question-answer session in Hindi between girl students and the officer, sources told The Hindu, ran for a longer session on Tuesday.
“The government is doing so much but why should we depend on the government for everything?” Ms. Bamhrah asks further.
Responding to media persons’ questions on the video, Ms. Bamhrah said, “It’s all false, malicious and wrong reporting of an event. I’m known as one of the most vociferous champions of women’s rights and empowerment. Some mischievous elements might have resorted to such low attempts to malign my reputation.”