Judgement is an easy occupation for a rainy Sunday afternoon. Deaths related to female health problems? Avoidable, of course! Not necessary, not in this world. And here in the west? No, no problems with female health, eh?

The news that reach us from Africa and Asia, where women are excluded, stigmatized, left to die because their bodies do what they should – bleed in order to reproduce – shock us. And they make us sickeningly pretentious. Having a period is a taboo in many of the oh-so educated countries. I remember my own biology teacher shamefully murmuring about tampons and pads for a few minutes before hastily carrying on with the ‘much more important’ topic of giving birth. But for many girls, the years before birth, the ones with cramps and secretly buying sanitary pads without anyone noticing and missing out on days at the pool are much more important. In Germany, the reduced VAT applies for everyday items such as toilet paper and food. But tampons and pads? Women have the option to either draw bloody trails behind them or spend 19% VAT instead of 8% as for the rest of the daily items. As if we had a choice to not buy them. In Turkey, tampons are either locked beside the cashier next to the condoms, where you publicly have to declare your wanting to buy them, or they get packed into an opaque black bag in order to not put anyone off. Or both.

That tampons pose a health risk only got through to me at the tender age of 21, when I was already using them for years. And my (female!) doctor said she had never heard of that. Sure.

Our relation to intact female bodies is still messed up. Women are shamed in many places for a not controllable bodily function that ensures reproduction. I understand that no one wants to be bothered by blood and pain when it’s avoidable – but at least I don’t shove used tampons in anyone’s face. I just wish the period would be accepted for what it is: a pain in the neck, but a healthy, natural thing. And we have come a great way the last decades. Now is not the time to stop going forward.

-Kristina Kraemer
Junior Editor
Girl News International

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