Daily Hot Topic

Topic : Menstrual Hygiene Crisis in Indian Prisons

GS-2 Mains  : Polity

Revision Notes

Progress & The Neglected:

  • While NFHS 2019-2020 shows improvement in menstrual hygiene product usage (80% of young women 15-24), women in prisons remain neglected.
  • Systemic oversight and societal biases around female prisoners and menstruation exacerbate the issue.

Women in Prison Population:

  • 23,772 women in Indian prisons, with 77% (18,380) in the reproductive age group (likely menstruating).

Inadequate Supplies & Facilities:

  • Inconsistent availability of sanitary napkins, often of poor quality.
  • 2016 Model Prison Manual recommendations for adequate supplies often ignored.
  • Lack of proper water and washroom facilities for female prisoners.
  • Overcrowding worsens access to basic necessities like water, soap, and detergent.
  • Maharashtra prison study (June 2023) found insufficient water, unclean toilets, and reliance on unreliable donations.
  • Substandard reusable napkins provided in some cases, unusable due to lack of washing facilities.


  • Increased risk of urinary tract infections due to infrequent washing.
  • Discomfort, skin rashes, and infections from poor-quality sanitary products.

Existing Schemes:

  • Menstrual Hygiene Scheme: Improves access to sanitary products for young women (free/subsidized distribution).
  • Suraksha Suvidha Napkins: Affordable sanitary napkins sold at ₹1 per napkin in Jan Aushadhi Kendras.

National Menstrual Hygiene Policy (2023):

  • Recognizes menstruation as a natural process needing attention.
  • Promotes safe and dignified menstrual hygiene management for all.
  • Targets disparities in access to products and information.
  • Identifies prisoners as a group with limited access to menstrual hygiene facilities.

Shortcomings of the Policy:

  • Lacks a concrete action plan for prisons.
  • Ignores the role of the Ministry of Home Affairs in prison hygiene policies.


  • Standardization: Enforce Model Prison Manual 2016 recommendations across all states.
  • Public Health Focus: Recognize menstrual hygiene as a public health issue in prisons.
  • Combat Period Poverty: Integrate menstrual hygiene management into prison programs.

Developing a Comprehensive Strategy:

  • Collaboration: Encourage collaboration between public health and prison authorities.
  • Improve Facilities: Upgrade washrooms and sanitation facilities.
  • Product Availability: Ensure consistent supply of high-quality sanitary products.
  • Prioritize Dignity: Focus on the health and dignity of incarcerated women in hygiene initiatives.

Research and Data Collection:

  • Conduct research to assess the current state of menstrual hygiene in prisons.
  • Gather data to identify gaps and areas for improvement.
  • Use findings to inform and refine policies and practices.


  • Enforce existing guidelines.
  • Address menstruation as a public health issue.
  • Collaborate with health authorities for a comprehensive strategy.
  • Conduct research to inform policy.


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