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Meet real-life `Padwoman’ of Kashmir

March 4, 2020

Srinagar, Mar 4: There are no girly giggles or embarrassing glances as Irfana Zargar discusses issues related to menstrual hygiene.

For the last more than a month, she has been traveling across Srinagar city to identify the female public washrooms so that she could place sanitary napkins to help menstruating women in distress.

Tired of the taboos around women’s menstrual health, the 29-year-old has launched `Eva’s safety door’ wherein she distributes sanitary napkin packs among the attendants of public toilets in Srinagar city for use by women for free.

She is neither paid by the government nor any agency but spends from her pocket just to ensure no woman is forced to go without a sanitary pad.

Hailing from old city’s Nowshera, she has zeroed in on four public washrooms in the Lal Chowk area of the summer capital, where women and girls have access to free-of-cost sanitary pads. Along with pads, they can also have access to sanitary items like panties, antispasmodic drugs, hand washes, and sanitizers.

“Lal Chowk is a major shopping center where a large number of women come every day to buy items of day-to-day requirements. But they always face problems in accessing hygienic toilets with facilities for sanitary napkins and their safe disposal,” said Irfana, who works as helpline assistant at Srinagar Municipal Corporation.

Under the project, she is planning to cover all the public washrooms in Srinagar in the coming days.

“There is a need to create awareness on a larger scale. Second, stigma must be tackled relentlessly. The cultural norm that menstruating women are in some way “unclean” must end,” Irfana said.

Irfana is determined to launch a campaign for easy access to sanitary methods. “The more we talk about it, the better it will be. It is a natural phenomenon and we need to help all girls get their basic right to bleed hygienically,” concluded Irfana.

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Hirra Azmat

When the world fails to make sense, Hirra Azmat seeks solace in words. Both worlds, literary and the physical lend color to her journalism.

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