Vending machines have been installed at Bangladesh’s leading university to provide female students with sanitary pads as part of efforts to break the taboo of menstruation in the conservative South Asian society.
Tilottama Sikder, an elected member of the Dhaka University Central Students Union, DUCSU, said on Tuesday that students at the University of Dhaka would be able to collect sanitary pads whenever they needed them from 10 machines installed on the campus.
Education Minister Dipu Moni is expected to formally open the service, jointly brought in by the DUCSU and Advanced Chemical Industries Limited, a leading conglomerate that makes pharmaceutical products.
Sikder said that each pad would cost 10 taka (slightly higher than 10 dollar cents), and the services would be available in women’s common rooms, libraries, and all female dormitories.
“It is part of a social movement against the taboo over women’s menstruation in Bangladesh,’’ she said, adding that the service would significantly ease women’s difficulties during their period.
Menstruation is hardly discussed in public in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, where in most cases women are considered impure while they are on their period.
According to a 2014 national hygiene study in Bangladesh, menstrual hygiene is also a challenge as the majority of women and girls use old cloth to soak up the blood.
About a third of teenage girls and half of adult women are forbidden from religious activities while menstruating.