Rest centres help eradicate practice of exiling women during periods

 Rest centres help eradicate practice of exiling women during periods

Abha Kaul

A silent revolution is on in Gadhchiroli, Maharashtra. With the help of UNICEF, town’s district administration, is working on eradicating the cruel practice of exiling girls and women of Gond and Madia tribes to a Kurma Ghar or “Period Hut” during the menstrual period. The adolescent girls and women from these tribes face several social, cultural and religious constraints during menstruation.

womens rest centre
Kurma Ghar (left) and Women’s Rest Centre

Determined to eradicate the practice, the administration took up cudgels on behalf of affected girls and women in 2018 with the setting up of Women’s Rest Centres. Safe and secure, these centres are equipped with facilities like toilet, bathroom, handwashing facility with soap and running water as well as cooking amenities.  Other facilities like library, sewing machine, kitchen garden will also be provided soon at these centres so that women can undertake related activities.

The administration has been holding capacity building workshops to convince local communities to get rid of the practice of Kurma Ghar.

So far, 23 such centres have been already been constructed with funding from District Planning Development Committee, Special Central Assistance Fund of aspirational district programme and PESA, along with labour contribution from women of SHGs of UMED-MSRLM (State Rural Livelihood Mission).  The architectural plan, layout and material specifications were designed taking into account the local housing style and patterns. The administration plans to set up 400 centres in the next two years.

“The menstrual hygiene management (MHM) is not just about sanitation. It is a vital step towards protecting the girl child while safeguarding her dignity and giving her a life of opportunities to pursue her dreams, towards achieving a gender-balanced world,” says a district official on condition of anonymity.

womens rest centre

No wonder that MHM has been included as an important component in the Government’s flagship programme, the Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G).  It underlines the need for construction of toilets in households and schools which is integral to menstrual hygiene and encourages safe menstrual hygiene practices.  It also calls for skill development and setting up of sanitary napkin dispensers and incinerators in schools and public toilets.

“As a result women have started questioning the ancient practices of being asked to refrain from bathing until the third day, or entering a temple or kitchen or touching pickle,” says the official, visibly happy the change.


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