Menstrual health management: Practices, challenges and human rights violations

Medico-Legal Journal, Ahead of Print.
Although it is a natural biological process, menstruation and associated menstrual practices still result in a number of social, cultural and religious restrictions in many countries which sometimes markedly interfere with the implementation of appropriate menstrual hygiene management. India has been chosen as a case in point, as there are approximately 355 million menstruating women and girls in the country, many of whom still face significant barriers to a comfortable and dignified experience with their menses including lack of access to appropriate clean water and washing facilities, and having appropriately priced sanitary products available. Social and religious stigmatisation may also be strict. It is suggested that illnesses related to a lack of clean water, basic sanitation and hygiene were responsible for the deaths of almost 800,000 females globally in a single year, making it the fifth largest killer of women. With increasing population movements, this may also be an issue encountered in migrant communities. There is a need to equip adolescent girls with sound knowledge regarding safe, hygienic menstrual practices to enable them to lead a healthy reproductive life. This human rights issue has significant medico-legal implications and has to be supported by both strong legislative and public health initiatives.

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