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Earlier this week, the brilliant Womens Podcast did a great episode about periods, with Dr. Ciara Kelly. Up until we heard it, we thought that it was  illegal to talk about periods and vaginas out loud and in public. Is it not true that should you do so you will burst into flames and have your eyes pecked out by crows? No. No its not. Give it a listen if in any doubt…

The podcast reminded us that as girls and women, periods are an unavoidable part of life. So why are we so reluctant to talk about them, to discuss whats normal and whats not, and to ask questions and take ownership of our own bodily functions?

Special mention to Lisa Coen for unknowingly inventing a new way to fight crime on the Luas this week…

This prompted us to wonder about what periods are like for other girls, in other countries. We know that many girls don’t have access to sanitary products, and therefore have to miss school. In some societies, women who are on their period are isolated from the community because they are believed to be unclean. This must be very traumatic for these women who are shunned from society for 5-7 days of each month.

Here’s what we learned….

  1. In some countries, girls use twigs, leaves, pieces of mattress or newspaper which causes infections.
  2. In some parts of Japan, women can’t hold certain “male jobs” like sushi chef because periods cause “imbalance”.
  3. In some parts of Nepal, girls are banished to dark rooms or separate sheds whilst having their period.
  4. Even in the western world, homeless women struggle to cope with periods due to cost of products and lack of access to showers.
  5. In Malawi, menstruation is a “strict secret” and most parents don’t talk to their kids about it at all, leaving many to think they are sick or dying at the first sight of blood.
  6. In Bolivia, girls are told that putting pads in the trash can lead to cancer, and many keep them in their bags all day until they can get home and dispose of them properly.
  7. In areas of India, females are told that periods can “pollute” food and are convinced that cooking or gathering vegetables will cause contamination.
  8. In Afghanistan, women are taught that showering during menstruation causes infertility.
  9. In Iran, nearly half of girls believe that menstruation is a disease.

All things considered, we’re lucky to live in a country where information is so freely available. But considering that girls use roughly 10,000 pads or tampons in her lifetime, the next step is to follow Scotland, and give them out for free? Oh and can someone please have a little chat with this guy?