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One in five girls bullied because of period, study finds

PERIOD POVERTY: Campaigners have called for menstrual stigma to be addressed and for the accessibility of free sanitary products to be improved

ONE IN five girls and young women have experienced being bullied or teased as a result of having their period, a research released today has found.

The survey of 1,000 girls and women aged between 14 and 21 by Plan International UK, released to coincide with Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28), found that two thirds (67 per cent) of those who experienced bullying said it took place at school, with one in 10 saying they experienced the period-related abuse online.

Atlanta, aged 17 from Manchester, is one of many girls who have missed school because of period stigma.

She said: “I’ve heard periods called awful, disgusting. I’ve been told to ‘get over it’. When my friends and I would try to discuss periods, boys would tell us to be quiet. One boy even called me “dirty” and refused to sit next to me in class after he overheard me talking about my period privately to a teacher. I was so embarrassed that I went home for the rest of the day.”

In the UK, 49 per cent of girls have missed an entire day of school because of their period.

Research shows that 71 per cent of girls have felt embarrassed when buying period products and 27 per cent have overused a sanitary product because they have not been able to afford new ones. Seventy-nine per cent of girls and young women have experienced symptoms linked to their period that concerned them but they had not seen a doctor or health professional about the issues, with 27 per cent saying they felt too embarrassed to do so.

The government has created a Period Poverty Taskforce to tackle the issue of stigma and education as well as building on the work to provide free sanitary products in public settings such as schools, police custody and hospitals. The new taskforce will be co-chaired by Plan International UK and Proctor & Gamble and Penny Mordaunt, minister for women and equalities.

The taskforce will look at the evidence and data around how period poverty affects different groups in society, as well as considering the role of education, access, costs, communications and role models in shifting social attitudes.

Mordaunt said: “For too long women and girls in the UK have faced unnecessary adversity around their periods, that is why we have formed this new taskforce.

“Our two new co-chairs, Plan International UK and Procter & Gamble, have already produced impressive work around the country to improve access to period products and change old-fashioned attitudes to menstruation and break down taboos.

“Now, working together on the Period Poverty Taskforce, we can take action to create a strong and viable solution to period poverty in the UK.”

Tanya Barron, chief executive at Plan International UK, said: “This is a golden opportunity to tackle the root causes of period poverty here in the UK, namely the high-cost of period products, lack of education and the stigma and shame that surrounds periods.”

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