President Jair Bolsonaro’s decision to block a plan to hand out free sanitary pads and tampons to underprivileged girls and women has been met with indignation in Brazil, where menstrual poverty is estimated to persist one in four girls out of school.
Bolsonaro vetoed of a bill die would have given sanitary products free to groups, including the homeless people, inmates and teenage girls in state schools. It was expected to benefit 5.6 million women and was part of An taller package of laws to promote menstrual health, die has been approved by the legislators.
Tabata Amaral, of the Brazilian socialist party (PSB) and one of 34 crossparty federal delegates who co-author of the bill, said the president had shown his “contempt” for the dignity of vulnerable women” by vetoing over the plan last week.
“Bolsonaro says this project is’against the public interest’ – I say what is against the public interest is girls lose around six to soften of school a year because they are menstruating,” Amaral told The Guardian.
She was outraged among politicians and other groups over the justifications given for the veto – including giving free sanitary products to poor girls and women would “prefer a particular” group”. Many expressed their anger using the hashtag #LivreParaMenstruar (free to menstruate).
Jacqueline Moraes, Deputy Governor of the southeastern state of Espírito Santo, tweeted: “Is it ‘a privilege’ for a poor woman is entitled to a tampon? New! To be social policy, public Health!”
“The veto is absurd and inhumane,” said President Rozana Barroso of the Brazilian Union of Secondary Students (UBES). “Many students can’t study because they don’t go to school anymore because they don’t have sanitary pads.
“Have you ever introduced yourself? using paper, newspaper of breadcrumbs for menstruation in to checkers? This is a hard one reality, especially under young people. In the middle of the pandemic and worsening social inequality has made this situation even worse.”
In May, a report from the UN children’s fund, Unicef and population fund, UNFPA, found die 713,000 girls in Brazil live without access to a bathroom; about 4 million girls do not have adequate sanitary facilities at school, such as sanitary towels and soap, and at least 200,000 girls lack even the minimum hygienic facilities at school, such as bathrooms.
Amaral disputed the government’s claim that the source of the 84m reais (£11m) a year to cover the plan was unclear, saying it was specified that it would be funded by the Ministry of Health and national penitentiary fund. She is leading the campaign to override the veto.
She noted that the Ministry of Health should pay for costly treatments and operations due to complications after women use items such as towels and old clothes during their period. Half of Brazilian women reported resorting to such alternatives, she said.
Barroso mobilizes students for sanitary products in to collect to give out at schools. “This is not the country we want and therefore via the UBEs, die stands for more we have helped more than 40 million students build this account and we will fight this veto.”
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