The recent outcome of a health survey conducted by IMHA, ISWAN, ITF & SHS has emphasized on women’s access to sanitary bins on board. Nearly 600 women seafarers took part in this survey. A similar issue concerning women seafarers was documented by the International Labour Organization (ILO, 2013) in the previous decade. However, 40% of the survey respondents have registered that they lack access to a sanitary bin on board.
The survey says that almost 85% of respondents who work for cruise ships do have an access to the sanitary bin as cruise lines do provide a place of solution for women passengers. It’s still disappointing as only 27% of the women working on tankers and 38% of respondents working on cargos have access to this basic utility while the rest are waiting for the solution.
A private and hygienic disposal method is a better solution to this problem so that unnecessary anxiety and humiliation felt by many women seafarers during menstruation can be avoided.
A few comments from the survey participants on the need for sanitary products:
“These [sanitary bins] are rarely available and it’s embarrassing to mention (Offshore).”
“Only [given] sanitary bag after request (Cruise ship).”
“Disposal is also a real issue – there is no advice or guidance at all on which segregated garbage bin to put them in. It’s a taboo subject and yet every female animal in the world has periods (Tanker).”
Furthermore the survey reveals that women seafarers are not being provided with the instructions to dispose the sanitary waste and sanitary products are not available on the adequate basis on board.
The project group which conducted this survey has planned to work collaboratively with all the concerned authorities to bring out long-term improvements in these areas.