Drawing attention to the health hazards faced by ragpickers while handling soiled and unhygienic sanitary napkins, a city-based co-operative of ragpickers, Stree Mukti Sanghtana (SMS) has written to companies like Procter and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson, and Hindustan Unilever urging them to educate women on hygienic disposal of sanitary napkins.
“The question is of extended producer responsibility and unhygienic disposal. At a time when the feminine hygiene sector is pumping money into developing new products, the companies can provide a biodegradable wrapper to dispose of the napkins, or even provide separate collection points,” said Jyoti Mhapsekar, president, SMS.
Ragpickers, most of them women, sort the city’s unsegregated waste, coming in contact with glass shards, biomedical waste and soiled sanitary napkins. SMS said members of their co-operatives are worried these used napkins could give them infectious diseases. “These women bear a lot of injuries and cuts to their palms. If they come in contact with soiled napkins, they can contract infectious
diseases like hepatitis or HIV. Handling the napkins is also offensive and repulsive for them,” Mhapsekar said.
When contacted for a comment, a spokesperson of Kimberly Clark Lever Limited, which manufactures Kotex, said, “We wish to clarify that Kotex carries disposal information on the pack.”