Don’t period shame women affected by the floods

The discourse on whether they should be donated is useless and, frankly, rather ridiculous. Pads aren't a luxury and, as so many people have pointed out, periods don't stop when it floods.
Updated 01 Sep, 2022

Much of Pakistan has been devastated by unprecedented and widespread flooding, resulting in over 1,000 deaths and over 30 million people being affected. As calls for donations are made, some very sensible people reminded donors that sanitary pads should be on the list of items donated. And amid those sensible words were some ridiculous arguments that pads are unnecessary.

The arguments against donating pads can be summed up in one word — mansplaining. People, mostly men, seem to think they understand a woman’s body better than women themselves. They seem to believe that women affected by the floods don’t need sanitary pads or other menstrual products because other items are ‘more important’. “Why provide pads when you can provide food,” they ask. “Why not provide medicine that can be used everyday, as opposed to pads that need only to be used for a few days a month,” they say. Why indeed. As people online have already pointed out — periods don’t stop when it floods.

Pads and other menstrual hygiene products are NOT a luxury, as many of our menfolk seem to think. They are absolutely a necessity. Not having adequate and clean menstruation products can result in increased risk of urogenital infections, such as yeast infections, vaginosis or urinary tract infections.

Most women of menstruating ages bleed every month and need menstrual products to manage their periods. This is not new news nor is it something shocking. Yes, many women in villages use cloths instead of pads, but right now, they don’t have access to anything. That’s the point, they need something and this is what people can easily provide. If you want to provide cloth pads, do that. If you can help provide disposable pads, do that.

At a time when they do not have access to any menstrual products, give what you can so that these women do not have to suffer through the added indignity of having to bleed through their clothes. As any woman who has suffered through this can tell you, it is humiliating and no one should have to go through it.

Your donations should help people and ensure that victims of the floods get what they need. If what they need are pads, then donate pads. Please put your delicate sensibilities aside and do what’s best for the people affected.

If the argument is that women in rural areas don’t know how to use pads, they can be taught how to by volunteers. It’s not that difficult and we don’t know how many of them already use pads, so let’s not deprive them of menstrual hygiene products because of what we think might be an issue.

Mahwari Justice is an organisation that is working to provide period products to people affected by the floods and is accepting donations. Most organisations that are accepting physical donations are also accepting sanitary napkin donations. Here is a list of organisations you can donate to. Remember, the goal is to help, not make inane proclamations about what people do and do not need.