Girls in Tamil Nadu villages need no longer be embarrassed about going to school during their monthly menstrual cycle. In some areas the state has introduced toilets with incinerators to dispose of sanitary wastes hygienically.
The government, in collaboration with UNICEF, has also taken steps to educate girls above 10 about menstruation so they are well versed with the changes in their body, and are prepared to tackle them.
"We have introduced this scheme since girls in rural areas were hesitating to go to school during the menstrual period," said A. Devaraj, Tamil Nadu project officer for UNICEF.
"This toilet, which is girl-friendly, is being put up in all girl schools in the rural areas so that they feel safe," Devaraj told IANS, adding that it would cost all of Rs.2,300.
A prototype of the toilet was exhibited recently at the two-day conference of state ministers to discuss sanitation and water sources and was much appreciated by the delegates.
"It is a very good effort and will be of great help to the girl child," remarked Punjab Water Supply and Sanitation Minister Bikram Singh Majitha, who expressed keen interest in adopting the model in his state.
Devaraj explained that the use of the incinerator had removed inhibitions and made girl students confident about attending school without taking periodic breaks.
"As regards sanitation, there are no more blockages of toilets," he said. "With a just a small investment, schools can install this technology in toilets and also check health hazards."
The Tamil Nadu government and Unicef have also brought out an 11-page booklet in Tamil and English in a reader-friendly format to explain menstrual hygiene to young girls.
"This has also been done since many parents are hesitant about teaching their daughters about this very important aspect of their lives," said Devaraj.