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Is Bollywood’s Pad Man movie too good to be true?

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A Bollywood movie about inventor Arunachalam Muruganantham (aka Pad Man) who created a revolutionary machine that makes cheap sanitary pads hit Indian screens in February. He has won high priase for providing cheap sanitary towels for women in poor communities and for challenging taboos surrounding menstruation in socially conservative India.

But is he too good to be true?

This article by Sinu Joseph, Managing Trustee of the Myrthi Speaks Trust, Padman – The Real Story of How He Shot to Fame by Selling Shame, rasies concerns about the quality of the pads themselves, along with dubious facts and assumptions presented in the film. Sinu counters several of the “facts” mentioned in the film, which are also regularly quoted in the media. For example there is a widely quoted statistic that only 12% of Indian women use sanitary napkins, however Sinu says, 'the National Family Health Study of 2015-16, undertaken across India, revealed that the use of Sanitary Napkins among Indian women is 48.5% in rural, 77.5% in urban and 57.6% in total.'

To add to this Chris Bobel has written an opinion piece criticsing the narrow focus on sanitary pads as the only solution in addressing menstrual hygiene management. She suggests the core problem surrounding menstruation is cultural stigma.


Date: 16 March 2018