The Creative Way These Women Are Protesting Period Stigma Deserves an A+

April 15th 2016

Taylor Bell

A group of students have stained their clothes red and covered a wall of their university In Pakistan with period pads in an effort to challenge the shame and stigma surrounding menstruation, Pakistan Today reports.

Students at Beaconhouse National University

Students at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore, Pakistan hung 25 sanitary napkins onto a wall of their university to protest the negative labels that are given to menstruating women in Pakistan. Students also created hand-written messages on each pad to address the flawed thinking people have about women on their periods.

Some of those messages included: "I am not poorly made," "Periods are not inherently sexual," and "This blood is not dirty."

The social stigma surrounding menstruation causes women across India and Asia to skip class or drop out of school altogether, according to Mic. For example, 1 in 5 women in neighboring India are forced to drop out of school due to their periods. And in a study reported by the BBC, 75 percent of women living in cities in India have to wrap their pads in a paper bag when they purchase them to avoid shame. Also, many women in India are still not allowed to enter a kitchen or temple during their time of menstruation, according to Pakistan Today.

Mavera Rahim, one of organizers of the protest, talked about the groups' motivations and the period stigma in the Pakistani culture and beyond in a Facebook post, the Independent reports. However, the post is now unavailable.

"The protest was against the stigma attached to menstruation and the sharmindagi [shame] with which we discuss it. We are made to put pads in brown paper bags when we buy them, we are made to talk about periods in hushed voices as if it's a dirty secret, and all-in-all made to act as if it is something we should hide more so than other bodily functions, when it's really a natural part of our biology. Our idea was to break this taboo around the subject in our society."

The tax on feminine products has recently taken over the conversation in the U.S.

As ATTN: previously reported, the New York Times found that a year's supply of tampons and pads costs up to $70 each year, and that feminine hygiene products are not covered by food stamps. And still today, many states enforce a period tax which has sparked much debate.

Jessica Valenti, founder of Feministing, talked about the need to subsidize feminine hygiene products in a piece for the Guardian.

"But this is less an issue of costliness than it is of principle: menstrual care is health care, and should be treated as such. But much in the same way insurance coverage or subsidies for birth control are mocked or met with outrage, the idea of women even getting small tax breaks for menstrual products provokes incredulousness because some people lack an incredible amount of empathy ... and because it has something to do with vaginas. Affordable access to sanitary products is rarely talked about outside of NGOs – and when it is, it’s with shame or derision."

Earlier this year Chicago and New York became the latest states to end taxes on tampons.