One in five girls and young women are teased or bullied over their periods, with many suffering in silence, according to a new study.
Of the 20% of 14 – 21 year-olds who told researchers that they had been targeted, 49% said they had not spoken to anyone about the abuse, showing the ‘unacceptable stigma and shame’ they are facing.
67% of the women questioned said that the abuse was mainly occurring in schools, and 66% said they have missed classes because of their period.
So many of us still feel the pervasive stigma around periods. Women are even too embarrassed to mention their periods to their female friends.
Even when we leave school and enter higher education or the world of work, there are unspoken taboos. Many women still feel that they have to hide tampons and find it hard to talk about PMS symptoms – even if it affects their ability to work.
The research published by Plan International UK, comes as Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt prepares to announce the charity as co-chair of its period poverty taskforce.
They will work with the Government Equalities Office and the Procter & Gamble corporation to tackle stigma and boost education around periods.
Accessibility to period products will also be examined while the 5% VAT on tampons or towels known as the ‘tampon tax’ will also be investigated.
Plan International UK chief executive Tanya Barron said girls are ‘facing unacceptable stigma and shame linked to their periods.
‘Not only is this damaging girls’ confidence and self-esteem, it’s also having an often-overlooked impact on their education,’ she added.
‘Girls tell us they are missing out on school because of their period and struggling to catch up on schoolwork as a result. We can’t allow this to continue.’
So far, it has been announced that tampons and other sanitary products will be given out free in England in schools and to hospital patients.
‘For too long women and girls in the UK have faced unnecessary adversity around their periods, that is why we have formed this new taskforce,’ explained Penny Mordaunt.
‘Our two new co-chairs, Plan International UK and Procter & Gamble, have already produced impressive work around the country to improve access to period products and change old-fashioned attitudes to menstruation and break down taboos.’
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