Sobhan Mukherjee — Kolkata’s answer to Padman of India Arunachalam Muruganantham, — had set out in 2017 to install sanitary napkin vending boxes across a few public toilets in south Kolkata. But the boxes that he had introduced were vandalised by men who found them inappropriate. That, however, did not stop him. Now, actress Ritabhari Chakraborty has joined hands with Sobhan to achieve a goal to install sanitary pad vending machines at all the public toilets in Kolkata, along with her best friend Rahul Dasgupta. “Sobhan has been doing this for three years now. He has put 70 vending machines till date and Rahul and I together plan to set up 300 more at different locations in the city. The whole motive behind joining this initiative is to make women get a sanitary napkin handy if they start chumming at any inconvenient location. Sobhan has the entire database of bathrooms, areas and suppliers of sanitary napkins, so a lot of groundwork has already been done,” said Ritabhari.
The first two sanitary napkin vending machines will be set up at Golpark and Deshapriya Park, which will be unveiled by Ritabhari, Sobhan and Rahul on Saturday. “Our target is to make Kolkata the first city with sanitary napkin vending machines in all public toilets run by the municipal corporation. By next week, we will be setting up 100 more such machines at public toilets across the city. Our target is 370 toilets (exact number of corporation-operated toilets in Kolkata) by the end of 2020,” added Ritabhari.
Sobhan, who had earlier worked on setting up transgender toilets in the city, felt the need to come up with the sanitary napkin vending machine at public toilets after a female colleague he was travelling with for work started chumming. “I saw that she was really panicking, as she didn’t have any sanitary napkin with her and neither was there any pharmacy or a public toilet nearby. So, the idea struck me that why can’t I come up with a solution to this problem. I asked several female friends and family members of mine that whether they will be open to the idea of using a sanitary napkin from a vending machine if they are on the road and start chumming before or after the scheduled date of their menstruation. Everyone agreed to this and that’s how I started work on this initiative,” said Sobhan.
Earlier, the 70 sanitary napkin boxes that were set up at the public toilets were made of cardboard, making them vulnerable to vandals. Now, Sobhan will be setting up vending machines made of steel and the sanitary napkins will only come out after inserting a coin of Rs 5. “With the support of my well-wishers, I have been able to achieve my goal. And now, with Ritabharidi and Rahulda on board, I hope we will be able to spread awareness to many women in the city,” Sobhan singed off.
Source: Times of India