Originally from Milford, Connecticut, Sravya Jaladanki is a second year, Political Science major at UCLA. As a new member, she is a part of the Campaigns Committee in GlobeMed. But beware: Sravya absolutely HATES when people touch her ears. It just creeps her out and don’t ask why because she don’t know.
Having your period sucks. I know. The pain of menstrual cramps, combined with the discomfort of sanitary pads and tampons is enough for me to release my PMS wrath on anyone that crosses my path. But rarely do I ever stop to realize how grateful I should be to experience that discomfort of my pad. The fact that I am able to afford such hygiene products and have them readily accessible is in fact a blessing.
In the United States, about two-thirds of the homeless population is comprised of individuals. Women make up 25 percent of this population. Apart from the fact that homeless women already need to deal with problems such as sexual harassment and abuse, they also can’t afford essential hygiene products such as tampons and pads.
One box of 36 tampons at Walgreens costs roughly $7. A woman on her period will go through about 20 tampons per cycle, so she’ll definitely need a new box every month to last her for her whole cycle. For homeless women, this is a cost they simply cannot afford. On top of that there’s the concern about period stains. More often than not, homeless women only own one pair of clothes – the one they’re wearing. Washing out blood stains in public is not only inconvenient for them, but also embarrassing.
The greatest skill a homeless woman can have, therefore, is the skill of improvisation. Many women prefer to use tampons, and so learn how to craft them out of pads. Some even resort to using objects such as socks, paper towels and plastic bags, all of which also pose as potential health hazards. Although cities like New York now provide free tampons in public schools, homeless shelters and jails, many homeless people still refuse to go to shelters for a variety of reasons, such as fear of contracting disease or danger of being assaulted.
I understand that it’s difficult to reach every homeless person and provide them with the basic necessities that they need. But when it comes to menstruation, homeless women need to be taken better care of. Local governments need to work to ensure that sanitary products are offered in safe places where homeless people will not be afraid to go to. No woman should have to dread getting her period because she can’t afford tampons. Menstrual products are a basic right that every woman should be entitled to.