Kapayan rep wants govt to look into affordable or free sanitary products to address period poverty

KOTA KINABALU: A DAP state representative has suggested that the government look into providing affordable, tax-free or even free sustainable sanitary products to address “period poverty’’.

Kapayan assemblyman Jannie Lasimbang (pic) said Wednesday (Jan 27) this following news reports on the predicament among women and girls unable to afford sanitary napkins, even those in urban areas.

She said this in response to a recent article claiming poverty has led some women preferring to get pregnant instead of thinking how to survive their monthly periods, while some girls decided to skip classes because they cannot afford to buy sanitary pads.

Some even use old newspapers as sanitary pads, or old clothes as a substitute so that these could be reused, said some news reports.

Another news article in December touched on a Sabahan who had to use strips of fabric when her period comes.

“Period poverty is happening in Malaysia and the increasing number of women and girls that are unable to afford such basic need is unacceptable and heart breaking.

“During the state assembly sitting in December, I asked if the government had any plans to give out free sanitary pads or eliminate taxes on sanitary pads to address period poverty, as well as to do research among women and girls especially from the B40 groups who cannot afford to buy sanitary pads.

“But the reply that I received is that the (state) government currently no plans to give out free sanitary pads. However, the state government has plans to make an index study of women's well-being.

“I hope the government will provide affordable, tax-free or even free sustainable sanitary products for girls at school, and women, including the homeless who are in need for financial support, ” she said in her statement.

Jannie said these groups must also be given wider access to menstrual hygiene management as well as a programme on menstrual education, considering the matter has health implications.

“Without proper hygiene products, women and girls would be exposed to infections such as urinary tract infections and yeast infections. A lot of taboos associated with menstruation are still upheld, affecting girls negatively, ” she said.

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