HomeSportsGolf'Shameful', 'unfit' Indian administrative service officer mocks schoolgirl's pad request

‘Shameful’, ‘unfit’ Indian administrative service officer mocks schoolgirl’s pad request

Harjot Kaur Bhamra, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer mocked a teenager’s request for the government to provide women with free pads during a workshop organised with Unicef in the eastern state of Bihar.

BBC reports that n Tuesday, at Unicef’s Sashakt Beti, Samriddh Bihar (Empowered Daughters, Prosperous Bihar) event in the state capital, Patna, one female student politely asked senior official Harjot Kaur Bhamra if the government could provide girls with free sanitary pads that cost 20-30 rupees ( ÂŁ0.23-ÂŁ0.34) in the market.

The student also divulged that their school had numerous broken toilets and that they had extreme difficulty in using them. Ms Bhamra, head of the Women and Child Development Corporation, seemed annoyed by her request and angrily said, “Why do you need to take everything from the government? This way of thinking needs to change. Do it yourself.”

Not to be intimidated, the schoolgirl brought up the government’s responsibility of serving the people as they are voted for by the same citizens they serve. This angered Ms Bhamra who raised her voice and responded, “This is the height of stupidity. Don’t vote, then. Become Pakistan. Do you vote for money and services?”

In India, periods are taboo and menstruating women are forced to live under severe restrictions.

A 2014 report by the NGO Dasra found that nearly 23 million girls drop out of school every year after they start their periods because they do not have access to menstrual hygiene facilities.

Ms Bhamra is a senior bureaucrat in the women and child welfare ministry and immediately faced backlash after a video of their exchange was shared on social media. Multiple netizens called her “shameful” and “unfit” to be a public servant.

Responding to these comments, she claimed that the reporting on the event was “false, malicious and wrong” and threatened to take legal action.

“I am known to be one of the most vociferous champions of women’s rights and empowerment,” she declared and held “mischievous elements” responsible for trying to “malign” her reputation.

Bihar is one of India’s poorest states and only 59% of women use a hygienic method of menstrual protection (NFHS-5).

Photo: AFP / Wakil KOHSAR
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