The Bihar girl, who was reprimanded by an IAS officer after asking for affordable sanitary napkins during a workshop aimed at ‘upgrading the value of girls’, has been offered a one-year supply by an Indian manufacturing company.
Hariom Tyagi, CEO of Delhi-based feminine hygiene company Wet and Dry Personal Care, said they were “rewarding” the girl – who is a BA student – for her “daring to raise from a public forum the issue of easy access to menstrual hygiene methods for poor girls and women living in slums,” HT reported.
He further said that the company has decided to cover the education costs of the girl until she graduates for the time being. “If in the future she wants any further help or support and we feel that is an area where we can help improve her quality of life, we will,” Tyagi added.
The incident happened in Patna on Tuesday where IAS officer Harjot Kaur Bhamra publicly ridiculed the girl after she asked if the government could provide sanitary pads at a cost of ₹20 to ₹30. The senior official from the Department of Women’s Development of Bihar attended a workshop organized in collaboration with UNICEF.
To the girl’s question, Bhamra retaliated by saying, “Today you want a free pack of towels. Tomorrow you might want jeans and shoes and later when it comes time for family planning you might want free condoms too.
When the girl said that people’s votes determine who governs, the officer called the remark “the height of stupidity” and added that those people should go to Pakistan.
The incident sparked major outrage on social media, with BJP official Amrita Rathod taking to Twitter to slam the new JD(U)-RJD government of CM Nitish Kumar and his deputy Tejashwi Yadav. Sharing a clip of the incident on the microblogging site, Rathod said, “meeting an IAS officer from the Nitish-Tejashwi government who asks a student to go to Pakistan for looking for sanitary napkins.”
On Thursday, Bhamra apologized for her statement, saying she “did not intend to humiliate anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings”. The IAS officer for lot 1992 added that the workshop had been organized to sensitize “adolescent girls to the government’s provisions for them”.
“We wanted to motivate them to become empowered and confident enough to make their own decisions about their lives and careers. It was during this discussion that I asked the girls to stop asking for things for free,” Bhamra said in a statement, stressing that his “intentions were not bad.”
The IAS officer, however, did not provide an explanation for his “condom” and “Pakistan” remarks.
The incident caught the attention of the National Commission for Women (NCW), which learned of the matter on Thursday and demanded an explanation from Bhamra.
Meanwhile, Kumar said he ordered the case investigated after hearing about it from the newspapers.