Why do jails still require women to pay for hygienic products?
You’d think that since menstrual cycles aren’t something that are controlled nor optional, that hygienic products would simply be free. Why must women have to pay for something they can’t control? A woman menstruates for an average of 2,535 days in her lifetime, or almost 7 years of 39. Affording hygienic products is not an easy feat, With the progressing history of women's demand for equality and justice, I feel as though it will take several more years to get to the point of not having to pay for hygienic products. Nonetheless, we are progressing; New York, Illinois, Florida and Connecticut have abolished sales tax on menstrual products. That brings the number of states that tax such products to 36. On another positive note, Laws in several states now mandate access to menstrual products in correctional facilities, shelters and schools.
So what about those who do not have access to purchase hygienic products? Those who have been isolated from society? Changes were put in place regarding menstrual products for female inmates in 2017 when a memo from the U.S. The Department of Justice required federal prisons to provide products to female inmates with no restrictions, such as limitation and cost. However, this only applied to federal jails. In return, Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) introduced House Bill 83 in 2019, which had the same purpose but was geared towards state prisons and jails. To ensure a success, the coalition formed an accountability group.They sent letters to 70 different jails in the state in April 2019 asking if facilities were aware of the change and whether or not they were implementing it. With only 12 responses, some had implemented the new procedure, but others said they either weren’t aware of the new law or had cost issues that prevented them from doing so.
“In many facilities, if an inmate needed more sanitary products, then they would have to buy them from the facility’s commissary which could be an unavailable expense for many inmates”(wydaily.com) not only are facilities limiting the resources, but they also fail to realise that the cycles of women are so different, some are much heavier than others. In addition, Many correctional facilities prior to the law were providing inmates with very low-quality and a limited supply of pads. Typically, the distribution of the products was low and inconsistent, which required inmates to find other products such as sheets or socks to manage their periods. This should never be an option for any woman. Every woman deserves to be provided with efficient resources for hygienic products, whether incarcerated or not.
Written by Guest Blogger:
Cheltenham High School - Project Based Learning Intern