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Key takeaways

  • The Karnataka High Court ordered the Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare Services to physically appear before the court on August 5 and document the progress made in the implementation of the SUCHI plan.
  • The order was delivered by a Division Bench of Justices B V Nagarathna and P Krishna Bhat, who noted that from March to April, the situation has remained the same.
  • The State stated that even if schools are closed, adolescent females who do not attend school will be given sanitary napkins through house-to-house visits.
  • On the ground, though, nothing is occurring. The SUCHI plan is simply a concept.

Introduction

For the fiscal year 2021-22, the High Court of Karnataka has ordered the State Government to “implement in letter and spirit” the ‘SUCHI' programme, a menstrual hygiene project that distributes sanitary napkins to nearly 17 lakh eligible adolescent girls.

The Court gave the order while observing that the scheme will not be implemented in 2019-20 and 2020-21 due to financial difficulties in procuring sanitary napkins to be handed to adolescent girls.

The Court was hearing a PIL suit submitted by the city-based Anti-Corruption Council of India in 2018, in which the Court is monitoring school infrastructure, child health checks, and the implementation of the ‘SUCHI' plan in schools.

The scheme benefits a total of 17,06,933 adolescent girls throughout the state. However, due to financial constraints, procurement of sanitary napkins to be supplied to adolescent females was not made in the years 2019-20 and 2020-21.

What is the SUCHI scheme?

The SUCHI Scheme, which began in 2013-14, was initially funded by the Government. The Centre, on the other hand, requested that states take over the scheme in 2015-16.

Through the National Health Mission (NHM), the Central Government has aided the States/UTs in their decentralised purchase of sanitary napkin packs programme implementation plans. Its goal is to raise menstrual hygiene awareness among adolescent girls. The Union Ministry of Women & Child Development's Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY) aims to empower adolescent girls to take control of their life at a national level.

The Scheme's broad objectives are to improve adolescent girls' nutritional health, and development status, raise awareness about health, hygiene, nutrition, and family care, connect them to opportunities for learning life skills and returning to school and assist them in gaining a better understanding of their social environment and taking initiatives to become productive members of society.

The scheme was first introduced in 2011 in 107 selected districts across 17 states, where rural adolescent girls were given a bag of six sanitary napkins dubbed "Freedays" for Rs. 6. Since 2014, funding has been allocated to States/UTs under the National Health Mission for the decentralised procurement of sanitary napkin packs for distribution to rural teenage girls at a subsidised rate of Rs 6 per pack of 6 napkins. The ASHA will continue to be in charge of distribution, with a monthly incentive of Rs. 1 for each pack sold and a complimentary pack of napkins for her own use.

She would hold monthly sessions for adolescent girls in Aanganwadi Centres or other similar venues to focus on the topic of menstrual hygiene and to discuss other related SRH issues. A variety of IEC materials have been developed around MHS, using a 360-degree approach to raise awareness among adolescent girls about safe and hygienic menstrual health practices. These materials include audio, video, and reading materials for adolescent girls, as well as job-aids for ASHAs and other field-level functionaries for communicating with adolescent girls.

Details

Earlier, the Government's lawyer told the Court that administrative approval would be sought this month and that roughly 2.04 crore sanitary napkins would be procured within 90 days.

If schools are closed, community-based door-to-door distribution through health professionals will take place, but if schools reopen, hygiene goods will be distributed at the schools themselves, according to the Council.

The ‘SUCHI' scheme, run by the State Government, is for adolescent girls aged 10 to 19. According to the Government, a budgeted estimate of Rs. 47 crore has been prepared for the procurement of these hygiene items this year.

The Bench stated that successful implementation of the ‘SUCHI' scheme would aid in the empowerment of teenage girls, particularly those from rural and distant areas who commute to the taluk and district headquarters for education. They generally miss school on certain days of the month when they are menstruating because they do not have basic hygiene supplies.

The State government had previously filed a memo stating that the technical committee would meet by the end of April 2021, that administrative approval would be sought in May 2021, that procurement would be made within 90 days, and that a budget of Rs 47 crore had been set aside to implement the scheme. The Court did observe, however, that no progress had been made in the case.

Orally, it was stated that the point is that girls miss school on specific days of the month, which interferes with their right to education. What strategies do you use to empower female students? The SUCHI scheme is a tool for self-determination. If you do not implement this programme and the adolescent girls do not attend school for 3 to 5 days every month, they are missing out on an education. This is not only a problem of education for girls but also in terms of their cleanliness, it continued.

Orally, the Court advised the State Government to apply to corporate entities for cash to implement the SUCHI scheme under the Corporation Social Responsibility Act (CSR).

Conclusion

During the hearing of a plea submitted by the Anti-Corruption Council of India, the instruction was delivered. The petition, which was filed in 2018, asked for a writ of mandamus or directives to the respondents to perform physical inspections of schools and provide reports, direct the responses to provide suitable infrastructure and amenities in government aided schools for students, teachers, and staff.

Also, the petition asked to inform respondents that frequent health check-up programmes for pupils in government schools are required. Poor and oppressed students should be supplied with some immunizations at no cost. Furthermore, the strict implementation of the SUCHI Scheme, which funds the delivery of sanitary napkins to government schools, has to be carried out.


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