Sanitary pads should be free

04 October 2016 | Columns

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The fact that in 2016, sanitary pads remain a luxury for many in Namibia and in other countries, is a stark and brutal reminder of just how much we continue to fail our girls. A social media ‘meme’, which reads that sex is a choice, and menstruation isn’t, has been making rounds on those platforms. The meme questions why condoms are free and sanitary pads not. These kinds of questions aren’t way out of line. A lack of sanitary pads has catastrophic implications for many girls and women. It often denies them their right to dignity; we continue to read horror stories about how young girls use leaves and unhygienic methods to control the blood flow during menstruation. A local NGO has been distributing reusable sanitary pads to hundreds of rural girls, with a local daily reporting that a “vast number of rural girls who come from poor backgrounds and communities were using mattress stuffing, newspapers and cloths when menstruating due to the fact that they could not afford disposable sanitary pads from the stores”. It is no secret that many young girls stay away from school during the menstruation period, scared and embarrassed. This is not only sad, it is shameful that in 2016, we are party to making young girls feel ashamed and embarrassed by something as biologically normal as menstruation, but more than that, we significantly diminish their quality of life because of menstruation. Children, more specifically the girl child, remain some of the most vulnerable members of our society, and we have a moral responsibility to protect especially them. We need to applaud DTA leader McHenry Venaani for intentions to table a motion in support of providing free sanitary pads. It is a long time coming, but better late than never. It is also refreshing to hear motions that directly affect the poor, and which seek to improve their lives directly. We can only hope for a favourable outcome,

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