An astonishingly detestable case has been reported from a private university in Punjab. Nearly dozen girls were allegedly strip-searched after discovering a used sanitary napkin in the hostel premises. A protest has broken out against the incident which took place last week. Reportedly, some soiled sanitary napkins were found in the hostel bathroom by the warden. The warden asked a few students to strip to check who was menstruating to find the culprit. She was accompanied by two security guards.
The services of two wardens and two security guards were terminated by the university administration over this incident. They said that it was reckless and irresponsible. A large number of girl students gathered to mount the pressure over inaction and the ‘extremely conservative’ milieu on campus. The varsity authorities, initially, claimed it as ‘a small mistake’.
As per the report, the protesting students of the university said: “We have been standing firmly against the wardens and authorities and demanding legal action against the wardens”. The Academic Dean of the varsity, MS Johal condemned the instance. He also claimed that due diligence was exercised by the establishments in the matter.
Not a lone incident
This is not an isolated incident. Last year two government teachers were transferred on the order of Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh. This action was taken as it is the teacher’s responsibility to educate students about the proper disposal of the sanitary napkins rather than punishing them. These teachers from Kundli village of Fazilka district were responsible for the stripping of girls in the school in a similar instance. A video exposed, few female students crying and complaining about being stripped by the teachers after discovering a soiled sanitary napkin in the school washroom.
Similar kind of disturbing incident was reported from a university in Madhya Pradesh. About forty girl students were strip-searched by a women hostel warden when a used sanitary napkin was discovered.
An educator’s role
In a society like ours, teachers are expected to encourage girls and to make them aware of the hazards of lack of hygiene during menstruation. It is their duty to teach students the importance of both, using and disposing-off sanitary napkins in a manner that is safe and healthy. Being a woman they are expected to be more understanding of the problems of the girls. This a common complaint of the female students, across the country. That they are kept within locked gates, not allowed to stay out late and they aren’t allowed to interact with the boys freely.
One of the biggest problems that young girls face is that of ignorance. In a lot of households, girls are only informed of important issues like menstruation, rape, and sexuality when it is deemed ‘fit’. Fit according to whom? The conservative society which forces a girl to keep quiet should anything happen to her? Is it correct to keep our children, especially our daughters, in the dark about important issues relating to their health? More importantly, is strip shaming the right way to teach them about hygiene?
We, as a society, need to change our opinions and give a chance to girls to spread their wings. They should be given an environment where they can openly discuss their issues related to menstrual problems, sexual harassment, eve-teasing, etc. We need to have an open-minded world where they can breathe easily and spread happiness rather than be suppressed.
A household or any place where women are suppressed and ill-treated will never grow. It is the women who form the first center of education, in homes as mothers. It is our duty to treat them well, as they deserve.
And to be stripped naked and shamed for their mistake, is not what they deserve.