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Source: Pexels/ @Taufiq Klinkenborg

Did you know? According to StatsSA, 49% of homeless people in South Africa are female…

There are many issues that go with living on the streets such as struggling to find food, a warm place to sleep (not to mention safe) and as a female this is even harder when you have the issue of going though menstruation…

A menstrual cycle is a normal, natural occurrence that happens to any healthy femal and if you have any knowledge on the matter you should know that it’s uncomfortable and sometimes a painful experience.

So imagine being a homeless female on the cold, ruthless streets with no form of pain killers to numb the cramps and on top of that having no form of relief or comfort from the blood running between your legs.

Related Article: Food Cravings and your period: what you need to know

“Period poverty” is an actual term used for women who cannot afford to buy sanitary products. They have to choose between food or tampons and a lot of the time it’s food because of course no one wants to go to sleep hungry.

It costs R21 for an average box of tampons that contains just 16 tampons and most women’s cycle last for more than 6 days not to mention the flow of the period differs AND the fact that you can’t keep a sanitary product on for too long due to health risks.

You’re looking at about R42 for 2 boxes of tampons and R15 for a packet of sanitary pads that contain just 10 pads (a woman with an average period flow changes every 4-6 hours as stated by the Period Blog).

Multiply that by 7 days and you will realise that its a lot of sanitary towels, which costs a lot of money…

It’s a basic human right and someone shouldn’t have to choose between food or hygiene.

Many homeless women, whether it’s in the USA or in SA experience their periods and go to extreme lengths just to have some form of comfort; even though these methods are unsafe and far from comfortable.

They use newspaper, toilet paper (if they can find), old socks and old clothes to stuff “up there” which is not just ineffective but also dehumanizing.

We need to get out of the stigma that periods are “dirty” and a taboo subject that people need to shy away from; but it’s a real health issue that needs to be faced head on.

I believe that if condoms can be giving out freely in public toilets then surely sanitary products can be given out freely as well…

-Zuhaa Isaacs