Menstrual Rights in the Prison Ecosystem

Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) refers to management of hygiene associated with the menstrual process. WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene has used the following definition of MHM: ‘Women and adolescent girls are using a clean menstrual management material to absorb or collect menstrual blood, that can be changed in privacy as often as necessary for the duration of a menstrual period, using soap and water for washing the body as required, and having access to safe and convenient facilities to dispose of used menstrual management materials. They understand the basic facts linked to the menstrual cycle and how to manage it with dignity and without discomfort or fear.’

The struggle for accessible menstrual hygiene management becomes more challenging for prisons, where women often live away from the comfort of their homes and have to rely on authorities for access to basic water facilities and sanitary products. This problem needs to be addressed, as menstrual hygiene products are a necessity and should never be treated as a privilege.

The Model Prison Manual, 2016 provides for basic minimum standards that must be maintained in prisons. The recommendations have been developed by Boondh in coolaboration with Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) are based on the provisions set out in the manual and are prepared to address some of the systemic issues identified regarding menstrual health by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).