Should gurdwaras make sanitary pads freely available to anyone who would need them? The need may be there and left unaddressed all this time.
Scotland is leading way when lawmakers on Tuesday (Nov 24) unanimously passed a legislation making period products freely available to all.
The newly passed Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act requires the Scottish government to set up a nationwide scheme to allow anyone who needs period products to get them free of charge. Among others, it involves schools, colleges and universities.
Monica Lennon, a lawmaker from the opposition Labour Party, had campaigned against “period poverty” — when someone who needs sanitary products can’t afford them — since 2016, reports AP.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that she was proud to vote for the “groundbreaking” legislation and described it as “an important policy for women and girls.”
A 2017 survey by the charity estimated that 10% of girls aged 14 to 21 in the U.K. have been unable to afford period products, and 15% of girls have struggled to afford them, reports AP.
As for the Sikh community, it is believed gurdwaras do not generally make available sanitary products. A cursory check by Asia Samachar show that none of the gurdwaras in Malaysia and Singapore openly make available sanitary pads.
“Never thought about it…We have provided sanitary pads along with toiletries to the homeless in the past, though,” a gurdwara official told Asia Samachar when contacted.
“This issue had never cropped up. I’m still wondering if there’s a pressing need for it,” said another official from a Klang Valley-based gurdwara. He was, however, open to exploring further the idea.
In February 2019, Binti International, a charity focused on smashing stigma and shame surrounding menstruation, launched a Period Policy at a London gurdwara.
The event at the Khalsa Jatha Sikh Gurdwara in Shepherds Bush held an open discussion about periods and help to eradicate the stigma surrounding menstruation.
The Period Policy, moved by Binti International in collaboration with the Peter Virdee Foundation, promotes and ensures equality for everyone who visits the gurdwara, from the regular congregation to first time visitors.
This means providing free menstrual products and menstrual education to the Sikh community, including open discussions around menstruation to eliminate shame, stigma and taboo.
The Period Policy launch at London gurdwara (Asia Samachar, 4 March 2019)
Menstruation: Ickkk? Not according to Guru Nanak Sahib (Asia Samachar, 16 May 2016)