What It’s Like Having A Period When You Live On The Streets

What It’s Like Having A Period When You Live On The Streets

“You just feel disgusting and there’s nothing you can do.”
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There are moments in life when you hear or read about something that makes you appreciate the things you usually take for granted, like having access to a bathroom and enough money to buy menstrual products every month.

I’ve admittedly never even thought about what I would do without tampons or sanitary pads because I’ve always been able to afford them, but I know it would be extremely hard and embarrassing if I wasn’t.

The sad truth though, is there are thousands of homeless women who find themselves in the devastating situation in which they have to choose between buying something to eat or purchasing sanitary pads each month. Twenty-one-year-old Zoe, who lives in a housing center in London, is one of those women.

“When I was on the streets, I actually found it easier to get food or toothbrushes than stuff for my periods. There was nowhere to find that stuff and I was obviously too embarrassed to ask strangers for it.”

Another woman, Jill, a homeless woman in her late 20s, explains how challenging menstruation was when she first became homeless.

“I used to just get loads of tissues from public loos, instead of pads, but it’s a mess. And you’ve got no clean underwear. You feel dirty anyway, don’t you. But you just feel disgusting and there’s nothing you can do.”

While most homeless shelters receive government funding to provide condoms and certain medication to distribute to the less fortunate, they don’t receive any financial assistance to provide sanitary products.

The consequences of not having necessary sanitary products are far more serious than just stained underwear. Women without access to a clean bathroom or laundry facilities risk their health by using unhygienic rags or other pieces of old fabric as pads. Moreover, they feel helpless, isolated and ashamed, leaving many resorting to theft as a means of having a dignified period.

It’s a largely ignored issue that’s sparked petitions and crowdfunding aimed at giving women living on the street access to menstrual products free of charge. One such campaign is The Homeless Period, a movement that offers information on how to help through donations to your local shelter, and signing a petition asking for government funding of sanitary products. To draw attention to the issue, the group launched a video last year made up of a montage of cardboard boxes with messages scrawled across them aimed at highlighting the struggle menstruating women on the streets face every month.

There are currently an estimated 200,000 women braving the streets each night in the US alone.

Buying tampons or pads simply cannot be a privilege reserved for women who can afford it. With a box of tampons easily setting us back $6 or more, it’s not hard to see how it becomes a luxury product for a lot of people, especially considering the disposable nature of it.

This makes the fact sanitary products are t axed in most countries seem all the more ridiculous. Paying an extra five to 10 per cent for a product that’s an annoying necessity for women – not a product we buy for pleasure – is unfair and sexist. Regardless of tampons being taxed or not, women who can’t even afford food most days can’t be expected to spend money on tampons.

It’s another reason we need to lift the taboo of talking about women’s periods. We’ve been made to feel ashamed about one of our body’s most natural, basic functions for decades, so much so, that eve n the idea of displaying a box of tampons on our desk at work seems crazy.

The women who suffer most while we continue to punish women for menstruating with inaccessible resources and hushed voices, are the ones who don’t have a voice. Homeless women are trying their best not to lose the one thing that shouldn’t require money, their dignity. Isn’t that something worth fighting for?


This story originally appeared on SHE'SAID', a global women's lifestyle website, and was written by Nadine Dilong .

Nadine is a beauty writer who's always on the hunt for the perfect nude lipstick and the best Instagram filter. She has a weakness for handbags and never says no to a cup of strong coffee.

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Cover Image Credit: Pixabay
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How Much Do You REALLY Know About Contracting STDs? Take This Quiz To Test Yourself

Time to find out how much you really know.

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I don't care what anyone says, safe sex is better than unprotected sex. There are a ton of myths regarding sex, STDs, and germs. It's time to learn the facts. Be kind to your body and protect it. Be honest with yourself and a partner. Even if it's a one night stand, STDs should be on your mind–don't let it be a turnoff. STDs have been on the rise and "The United States continues to have the highest STD rates in the industrialized world." This is your wake-up call.





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My Parents Didn’t Tell Me To Stay Pure Until Marriage, I Made That Decision On My Own

So, please respect my decision.

tiannat
tiannat
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As we evolve into a more open and accepting world, the one thing that is getting less taboo is sex. It's not something that is talked about behind closed doors. It's something that is on the television screens and easily accessible on our phones. People talk about it and promote it like it's small talk. It's so hard to escape, especially as a young adult.

To say that I am staying pure until marriage is a very uncommon thing, at least in my opinion. Sure, I have friends who are in the same boat as I am. But, even at a Christian college, sex is everywhere and most people are partaking in it. However, I decided to not.

Growing up, my parents never told me to stay pure until marriage directly. I went to church and heard about it in sermons. I knew that by keeping myself pure until marriage, I would enjoy it more knowing that I waited for my future husband. I understand that some people may not agree with me on this topic, but here's why I am saving myself.

1. I want to know that the man loves me.

For me, I want to have sex with someone that I love. Now, you may defend this with the fact that your boyfriend loves you. That's great. But, dating isn't always a sure thing. Boys (and girls) can say that they love you, just to get in your pants. And, they will. It happens all the time. And, because you are blinded by love, you will end up giving in and doing it. But, see, I don't want to be blinded by love. I want to know that the person I am with, is with me forever. By making the biggest commitment aka marriage, that is a clear sign that they love me and want me forever. This is a good example of actions show more than words do. They can say they love me, but when they showcase that love, that's when I know it is real.

2. I want to give all of me to one person.

I heard this great example my senior year that discusses this exact thing. For someone like Hugh Hefner, who was with HUNDREDS of women, when he got older, he said he didn't feel anything anymore when it came to sex. He was numbed by the whole experience. It wasn't pleasurable or for love. By having sex with countless women, he had given a little part of himself to each of them, until he had nothing left. Therefore, by saving myself for one person, they would be getting all of me. As a whole. 100%. This is special because no one else has that except for my future husband.

3. The idea of getting pregnant scares me because of the lack of security.

For the past three generations in my family, they have all had children young. 15, to 17, to 20 years old. Blinded by love. Manipulated by their hormones. They had sex and got pregnant. To see not only 1 woman, but 3 women in my life go through that, I know how difficult it is. You're a kid yourself. Personally, I do want children. However, I have so many dreams and goals for myself. I want to graduate from college. Get a good career. Travel. Fall in love. A lot of that can be halted by a child. I don't know if I would get to achieve everything I want to, especially if I would have to raise the child alone (which usually happens). So, by waiting for marriage, I am using the biggest form of birth control.

4. There's no comparing, if you have only been with one person.

Now, this is different for every relationship. However, everyone feels insecure or uncomfortable when it comes to dating and relationships. Knowing that someone has had sex prior, you wonder if you are shaping up or doing better than the previous. By only having sex with one person, it relieves the stress of comparison.

5. It brings me closer to God.

One important lesson I have learned from friends, college, and personal experience, is that relationships (when it isn't built on God), you tend to stray away from Him. Therefore, by making my relationship with God stronger, I fall in love with Him first. Then, I am capable of loving a boy and committing to something like marriage and sex.

So, no, my parents never convinced me to stay pure until marriage. It was my own decision. I have reasoning for staying pure and it's my choice. So, please stop shaming virginity in the 21st century, because I'm not shaming you if you aren't one.

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