Period shame harms young women

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Reports last month revealed that girls and young women have missed days of school because they can’t afford to buy sanitary products.

Teachers in Leeds noticed that some of their female students seemed to be missing school regularly. They found that it was because they had no cash for tampons or sanitary towels and were embarrassed to ask for help. One girl told BBC radio, “I wrapped a sock around my underwear just to stop the bleeding, because I didn’t want to get shouted at.”

The teachers contacted the charity Freedom4Girls, which campaigns for access to sanitary products for girls in developing countries, to highlight the issue of young people in Britain.

The cost of sanitary products has been flagged up before, with outrage over the “tampon tax” of 5 percent on top of the already steep prices. Over a lifetime women can expect to spend £20,000 on sanitary products. Asylum seekers, homeless people and others living in poverty also struggle to afford sanitary products.

The fact that, in the 21st century, people are still embarrassed to talk about periods, is indicative of how far there is to go on women’s liberation.