The Gujarat High Court has directed the state government to take steps to create awareness and sensitise health workers to prohibit social exclusion of women on the basis of their menstrual status at all places, be it private or public, religious or educational. The division bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and IJ Vora issued notices to the state and Central governments, returnable on March 31, on a PIL seeking its direction for a law to specifically deal with the exclusionary practice against women on the basis of their menstrual status.
In its order passed on February 26 and made available on March 8, the court said, as a prima facie consideration of the issue being raised in the PIL, it would direct the state government to take steps to raise awareness through media campaigns and sensitization of health workers, among others. The government should also allocate necessary funds for this and create a mechanism for checks on institutions indulging in such discrimination, it said.
It maintained the issue at hand was "very delicate," and sought the response of the state and Central governments among other respondents on it. The PIL, filed by Nirjhari Sinha and Jharna Pathak, sought the court's direction to declare the need for a law that specifically deals with exclusionary practice against women on the basis of their menstrual status.
The PIL wanted guidelines to be framed for enforcement of fundamental rights of women preventing and prohibiting exclusionary practice against women on the basis of their menstrual status. It also sought mechanisms to ensure educational institutions, hostels, and living spaces for women studying, working and others, private or public, do not follow such exclusionary practice.
The PIL referred to a media report in February last year about 68 girls in a hostel being strip-searched to prove they were not menstruating. The PIL said social exclusion of women on the basis of menstrual status is violative of the Articles 14, 15, 17 and 21 of the Constitution.