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Coronavirus lockdown | Woman migrant workers walking home receive sanitary napkins at Ganjam

A volunteer distributes sanitary napkins to migrant workers in Odisha’s Ganjam district. Photo: Special Arrangement

A volunteer distributes sanitary napkins to migrant workers in Odisha’s Ganjam district. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Menstrual hygiene is neglected on their arduous journey by foot, when they don’t even have money for food.

At the Andhra-Odisha border in Odisha’s Ganjam district, the women and adolescent girls among migrant workers walking homeward on the NH16 have received sanitary napkins, along with food and other relief material, from Youth for Social Development (YSD), an NGO, for the past six days.

“It is a small effort to ensure menstrual hygiene for women already burdened by economic and physical woes,” said Bibhu Prasad Sahu, director, YSD. Women prefer not to discuss menstruation publicly and families often don’t have enough money to buy even food, he said, leading to the neglect of menstrual hygiene on their arduous journey by foot.

A group of adolescent girls living in slums in Berhampur had suggested sanitary napkins be distributed urgently. They are a part of YSD’s ‘Kishori Shakti Project’ and involved in preparing packets of dry food and other relief materials for returning migrant workers.

A woman walking to West Bengal from Tamil Nadu, who was provided a packet of sanitary napkins at Surala in Ganjam district said she had been worried about infections caused by the use of dirty cloth as protection over the long walk.

On NH16

Over the past 10 days, hundreds of migrant workers, among them women, children and expectant mothers from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Telangana, have been walking on NH16 to reach their homes in Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and the northeastern States. They enter Odisha’s borders through the Girisola inter-State check gate of Ganjam district.

They get some respite when they enter Odisha’s Ganjam district from adjoining Andhra Pradesh because of Ganjam District Rural Development Agency’s (DRDA) ‘Operation Sugam’ initiative in association with local social organisations YSD, ARUNA, ISARA and PREM.

As part of the State government’s decision that no migrant worker should be allowed to walk within Odisha, they are being provided bus transport for 100 km from the Andhra Pradesh border to the Ganjam-Khurda district border in Odisha. They are also provided cooked and dry food, drinking water and other basic necessities, including sanitary napkins for women, before they board the buses to Khurda.

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 9:35:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/women-workers-walking-home-receive-sanitary-napkins-at-ganjam/article31633913.ece

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