|| Feeling Powerless ||
For many of us buying sanitary pads is as easy as buying bread and milk. But this is not the case for millions of women all around South Africa. We can all agree that periods are pretty annoying as it is, but imagine not being able to afford any sanitary pads and having to use a sock or even leaves and sand as an alternative.
According to Cook, M (2014) they are at a perpetual disadvantage as they are forced to stay at home because they are not able to afford this basic necessity. Many of these girls are at risk of infection and more often it can have negative psychological effects and disrupt their everyday life. They often feel embarrassed or too scared to ask someone to get them sanitary towels.
I have always been able to afford sanitary towels and have never been in a situation where I couldn’t get or where I had to use alternate sources.
I have a major obsession with being clean. If anything is ever spilt on me and I feel sticky or dirty I have to clean it off straight away otherwise i get all panicky and anxious. It makes me feel physically uncomfortable when I don’t feel clean. It’s almost like I can’t concentrate on anything else if something is making me dirty. My dad also has a fixation with being hygienic, I remember him always telling me to shower twice a day and to not go to bed dirty etc. I’ve even picked up certain habits from him such as smelling my clothes to tell if they are dirty or not. This proves that I’m a product of my upbringing.
For this challenge I decided to go 24 hours without using a sanitary pad. I was not on my period but i did paint blood onto my pants to look like i was on my period. I spent the whole day at home and did absolutely nothing. I tried to put myself in the shoes of girls who literally can’t go to varsity or school because they don’t have sanitary pads. I didn’t go out in public because the girls wouldn’t do this while on their period. They are often stigmatised by cultural attitudes that regard menstruating women and girls as dirty. Many girls grow up dreading their period because of the social stigma associated with menstruation, as well as the lack of services and facilities to help them.
I felt completely helpless throughout the day. I couldn’t follow my daily routine or even go out into public. Despite the physical discomfort (sticky and making a mess) it frustrated me to such an extent to stay home for one day that I started getting cabin fever. I cant even begin to imagine doing this for six or seven days when I’m actually on my period. I then started to count my blessings which made me extremely grateful for what I have. Knowing that this happens to girls once a month breaks my heart that they can’t even afford their basic needs. It was a feeling I have ever experienced, a feeling of anger and sadness mixed.