Yeah — so this happened. It's not trending yet though Image: Thinkstock
It seems like only yesterday that any and everyone with an Instagram account took the #PadmanChallenge. It was unanimously claimed that the movement's resonance lies not with the biggest release of the year — no wait, that was Padmaavat — but with battling the taboo surrounding menstruation. Almost 50 days after the release of Padman, we have found a real challenge for our desi superhero.
Forty female students were strip-searched at Rani Laksmi Bai Hostel of Hari Singh Gour University, located in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh, by the warden who had found a used sanitary napking lying around in an open space. But don't go coasting through social media for a hashtag, because the Padman challengers seem to be on a break.
Ironically, the state capital Bhopal was the first Indian city to have installed the Happy Nari sanitary vending machine at its railway stations, which dispenses two pads at Rs 5. We don't know about you, but some naris of MP aren't very happy about being asked to strip to show if they were menstruating.
The incident, which reportedly took place last week, has sparked a series of protests by students. According to reports, on Sunday, March 25, the students of Hari Singh Gour University complained to their vice-chancellor that their warden Chanda Ben and the hostel caretaker strip-searched them to check which of them were on their periods and had left a sanitary napkin lying around.
"Yesterday, a delegation of boarders has lodged a complaint. They have alleged they were stripped by the warden and her assistant. I have formed a three-member inquiry committee and it will submit its report within three days. We will take action on the basis of the inquiry committee report," university vice-chancellor RP Tiwari told Outlook.
Reports state that last Sunday, the boarders of Rani Laksmi Bai Hostel met Tiwari and told him that they were asked to assemble at a place and then to strip, one by one. The search was reportedly 'provoked' after the warden found used sanitary pads lying about in the open area.
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#Padman #PadManChallenge pic.twitter.com/pFc0VwRaIi
Come 2018, India saw a surge of menstruation-related awareness. From biodegradable pads, to vending machines, to period leaves, to hour-long talk sessions focussed on one single issue — a lot was collated in two months' time. The #PadmanChallenge was a raging movement — nobody was ashamed to hold a sanitary pad anymore, everybody knows what they're used for and how much they cost and, most importantly, everybody is on the right side of the argument.
And yet, 44 days later, the outrage is terribly missed — especially now. Let's get real — nobody expected a film and a two-month long promotional campaign to fix a problem. But the conversation, too, seems to have stopped. The commercials are back to using blue liquids, and people have moved on to other hashtags. It's almost like you wouldn't know a 'movement' had come and gone, if you weren't on Twitter. #Weird