Periods are horrible, nauseating, unpleasant things at the best of times. But imagine being 13 or 14 and mortified by having to let blood flow down your legs in the middle of class because you couldn’t afford “luxury items” like tampons or sanitary towels.
Well, that’s exactly what many young girls in the UK are currently experiencing, and they are so embarrassed about their situations that some are skipping school because of it.
Staff at charity Freedom4Girls, which provides sanitary products to women in Kenya, were first alerted to the problem after a school in Leeds contacted them.
“I wrapped a sock around my underwear just to stop the bleeding, because I didn’t want to get shouted at,” a teenage girl told the BBC of the struggle to make use of everyday items because she didn’t have enough money to buy sanitary care. Her mother is a single parent with five children and limited funding.
She continued: “I wrapped a whole tissue roll around my underwear, just to keep my underwear dry until I got home. I once Sellotaped tissue to my underwear. I didn’t know what else to do.”
A second girl admitted to the broadcaster that she missed school when she came on her period because she didn’t understand what was happening to her body and she was frightened.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Tina Leslie, a Leeds-based member of Freedom4Girls who is also a public health worker, said she “wasn’t shocked at all” by the revelation.
“If you’ve got no food, you’ve got no money for sanitary protection,” she added, saying that more research was needed to establish the scale of the problem in the UK.
There is a lot to be done to fix the issue for teen girls, but several charities are on hand to help teenagers of low income backgrounds get the sanitary care they need it.