It’s hard to believe that “period poverty” is a thing in a privileged, first-world country such as the UK. But when the Scottish parliament held its first debate over the issue, it was proved to be a serious problem.
The Trussell Trust charity is urging the Scottish parliament to give tampons and pads away for free to women on benefits as MSPs heard of women and girls using socks and newspaper instead of sanitary produce.
Scottish Labour’s inequalities spokesperson, Monica Lennon, addressed the debate, asking, “What use is a free prescription for period pain relief, if low pay and insecure zero-hours contracts are forcing menstruating women to stuff their pants with toilet paper?”
The Trussell Trust food banks try to stock tampons and pads for the women who use them, but as they rely on donations, no promises can be made as to their availability. Lennon continued, “Should we really say ‘try a food bank’ to a mother and her daughters fleeing domestic violence, when there is no guarantee whatsoever that the donations pile will include the tampons and towels they urgently need?”
The subject of “period poverty” has no doubt been raised by the ‘tampon tax’ debate earlier this year, which saw George Osbourne successfully lobbied to remove the tax on sanitary products declaring them as “luxury items”.