Remember the time when the entire nation was irked about how sanitary napkins should be tax-free? Here’s the harsh reality- even if it was tax-free, most women still can’t afford to buy these. We’re talking about homeless women. Not just in our nation, we’re talking about all the women, everywhere. Statistically speaking, 40% of all homeless people in the United States are women. Closer home, the figure is much worse. How do these women, who don’t even have access to most basic necessities, deal with their periods?
A YouTube channel recently took a closer look at the lives of homeless women, and the findings were absolutely heartbreaking. Here is how they cope with their periods:
Kailah: Period times are uncomfortable. You have to use public washrooms to clean yourself. The day I buy pads, I have to skip lunch because that’s a day’s expense. Tampons? Can’t even afford them. Oh, and good luck with cramps. I usually take hot water from McDonalds and clean myself. It is a serious health issue.
Courtney: Pads are half of what I and my boyfriend make in a day, so I can’t eat. I have to choose between eating and being clean. My dignity is at stake.
Elena: I steal. Period. I want to feel clean, like everyone else. I steal.
Watch the video here:
Closer home, here’s what the scenario is like:
Not just the villages, but there are thousands of homeless women in town too who can’t buy sanitary products, often resorting to bizarre things like dirt and leaves and bark to absorb their menstrual blood! Lack of plumbing and paid public toilets in villages have further worsened the problem. Here is one additional thing that homeless women in India have to deal with- superstition. They don’t have access to pads, and the religious traditions and taboos leave them isolated and ashamed. Here are the shocking stats from the beginning of 2017 — only 12 percent of women in India use sanitary products!
Even with the Arunachalam Muruganantham revolution, many who fall extremely below the poverty line can’t even afford to spend Rs. 2 on a sanitary napkin. Check out his TED talk on the issue:
While the ‘tax or not to tax’ debate has died down without reaching a conclusion, here’s the main question we need to be answered: The millions of women who live on the street, what about them? Nearly 80% of women in India don’t use sanitary pads because they can’t afford them. When will it change? It’s 2017- how much longer are we going to wait to make menstrual hygiene a basic right and not make it seem like the utopian dream it is today.