Who pays the bill for menstrual poverty?  - 10/13/2021

In recent days, the president vetoed a bill that would distribute sanitary pads to low-income students in public schools, homeless people, inmates held in penal system units and women interned in units to comply with socio-educational measures.

The argument for the veto was the lack of funding resources. But isn’t financing “cheaper”?

Some time ago I talked about menstrual poverty, and I believe that going back to the subject to clarify the impact and cost is favorable for us to find a way to bring this topic to the discussion, regardless of how the law will be followed.

People who menstruate spend, on average, 35 years of their lives using, without discounting the use of contraceptives or pregnancies, a total of about 2 packs of absorbent per month. Thinking about today’s values, we would have approximately 10.00 per month and in 35 years 4,200 reais.

We know that for the government it would be possible to reach the value of 0.01 cents per tampon — which would lead us to much lower values. What is the reason for this reflection?

Those who only look at this number of 4,200 reais think that we are talking about a very high value, forgetting that it was originated from 10 reais a month and that those who do not have access to adequate hygiene conditions cannot always resolve their financial issues quickly and may need for a long time.

And the gynecological account? Yes, the account also exists and sometimes it becomes unnoticeable immediately. A person who does not have access to a tampon needs to improvise, which may develop a urine infection or vaginal discharge — and both need antibiotic treatment, which in a month can exceed the 10 reais needed to buy the tampon, and come out of public money .

However, vaginal discharge is the type of situation that affects many people and the origin is not always evaluated, only punctual treatment is performed and, in case of lack of absorbent for one or two months before, it may not be reported in the consultation and so the cause is unknown.

In addition, more severe cases that lead to pelvic infections can even affect the fallopian tubes, causing infertility. And that teenager who, at age 16, introduced cotton, bread crumbs, and other replacements during her menstrual period and had repeated discharge, only at 30 is found infertile, and she will not always relate this fact to adolescence. So, who pays this bill?

And that’s not to mention the mental health of a girl who every month feels ashamed and anxious about not having a tampon, besides the loss of teaching, as there are girls who miss school every month because they are unable to buy a tampon and go to the over the years, accumulating absences and difficulties to compete equally with other students.

Perhaps for some people items like tampons may seem like just another hygiene item, but no, they make a difference in gynecological and mental health. Its absence can bring many losses that end up causing the entire life of a person who menstruates and, often, the bill for this lack of access to menstrual hygiene items will be paid in installments by the entire society.

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