Is there still discrimination linked to periods ?

Is there still discrimination linked to periods ?

Discrimination is "the act of distinguishing and treating someone or some group differently (usually worse) from the rest of the community or from another person". In France today, periods is - for most people - no longer a taboo subject. But this doesn't apply everywhere, and there is still discrimination against menstruating people. 

How does discrimination manifest itself?

In many parts of the world, access to sanitary protection, or simply to safe toilets and clean water for example, is very complicated for women. For some women, sanitary protection is not only financially unaffordable, but also due to cultural and religious norms in certain countries. 

In 2015, UNICEF reported that one in 10 girls did not attend school during their menstrual period. It's vital that public authorities get to grips with the problem ofaccess to sanitary protection. Indeed, it is essential that women, and even more so young girls, are able to manage their cycles in the best possible way, so that they can continue to learn, to limit the school drop-out rate in these countries, and so that they are freer. What's more, the lack of access to suitable sanitary protection increases the risk of infection and disease for women, who are forced to use pieces of cloth, rags or even leaves during their periods.

In addition to the fact that some women have no access to sanitary protection at all, there are still inconsistencies and inequalities regarding laccess to menstrual protection, even in so-called "developed" countries. For example, the tax rate for sanitary protection is the same as, or even higher than, that for non-essential products. This sends out the message that sanitary protection is superfluous.

Discrimination also bears witness to the taboo that persists around periods. In some countries, periods is still seen as something dirty and shameful. For example, in certain rural areas of Nepal, when women have periods, they are forced to isolate themselves, to live separately from men, because it's "women's business" that doesn't concern them. In addition to isolation, there are numerous restrictions on women during their cycles: for example, they are forbidden to touch food or enter sacred places.

In addition to humiliating women and reinforcing the taboo surrounding menstruation, this phenomenon of isolation reinforces the illiteracy rate among young girls, who are therefore forced to miss around a week of classes a month.

Another form of discrimination that can occur is the infringement of fundamental rights. Indeed, in some countries and due to certain cultural and religious norms that persist, young women when they have their periods are subjected to sexual violence or forced marriage. Indeed, menarche (i.e. the start of periods) is perceived in some countries as the sign that women are ready to be married or sexually active. They are therefore exposed to abuse. 

Some women may resort to paid sex in order to pay for sanitary protection.

On the same subject: Being a woman in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

How can we combat discrimination?

For many years, human rights organizations have been trying to alert people to the need to take the subject of periods and discrimination seriously and provide solutions, by publishing reports. For example, in 2017, Human Rights Watch and WASH United published a guide for groups specializing in women's and girls' rights, with the aim of helping these groups address issues of menstrual hygiene at a human rights level. 

UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) distributes sanitary protection products to women living in humanitarian crisis areas. 

On a more local scale, many human rights and feminist associations (such as periods Élémentaires in France, for example) are calling for menstrual sanitary protection to be free, or at least not taxed. 

periods is a totally natural phenomenon, and should never be a source of discrimination. Fortunately, more and more voices sare speaking out against such discrimination, but there is still a long way to go before all discrimination linked to periods disappears. 

Elia is committed to making sanitary protection accessible to all women. That's why we donate 10% of the profits from our menstrual panties to associations fighting menstrual insecurity.

Sources: https: //équemment-posées &

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The information contained in the articles on is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.