According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than 4 million Brazilian girls do not have access to minimum menstrual care items in schools. The subject has been debated on several fronts and there are public policy initiatives to reduce the damage in this regard. Even so, the topic is still not being dealt with with priority and the necessary understanding.
:: Four male deputies veto distribution of tampons to poor women in Paraíba ::
An example of this is what happened in Paraíba, where the Constitution and Justice Commission of the Legislative Assembly of Paraíba decided, by four votes to two, to maintain Governor João Azevedo’s veto (Citizenship), to Bill No. 1436 of 2019, in the last Monday (23).
The bill was authored by state deputy Estela Bezerra (PSB) which proposed the creation of the “Menstruação Sem Taboo” Program to distribute pads to low-income women and girls. “I think the project suffers from two types of discrimination: that of invisibility and then that of lack of legitimacy in recognition, because men tend to think that this is not a crucial problem, that it is not a problem of social interest, and it is ”, analyzes the deputy.
The veto generated a mobilization of 17 civil society organizations, which carried out an offensive in the networks, demanding its overthrow. “There is no doubt from civil society that this bill is fundamental, because it is the first point that brings the possibility of an organized and centralized public policy that tries to promote and combat mainly the issue of menstrual poverty. So, when there was, when we heard about the issue that the governor had vetoed, there was an organic, natural and immediate mobilization”, is what analyzes Marcela Torres, a member of the Public Project Institute (IPP), which is part of the campaign.
:: Women campaign for the overthrow of the veto of the project “Menstruação Sem Tabu” in Paraíba ::
Gradually, the issue is gaining ground, but it is necessary to recognize the level of impacts of menstrual poverty. “It is a matter of public health, because we are not talking about small numbers. The numbers are from a perspective that 3 out of 4 girls in Brazil do not have access to pads or the materials needed to care for 5 periods of menstruation; more than 60% of the girls have stopped going to class or somewhere they like, because they were menstruating”, says Rafael Santos Neves, coordinator of the UNICEF Water, Hygiene and Sanitation project for the Articulação do Semiárido Brasileiro (ASA) .
Since 2014, the United Nations (UN) has recognized that women’s right to menstrual hygiene is a public health and human rights issue. But in Brazil, the items are still taxed as superfluous. “The medicine for erectile dysfunction is not, but the absorbent is taxed as a superfluous item. So, it’s about this: our claim is not simply fair, it is reparatory, it is indemnity”, evaluates Marcela.
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Despite the difficulties of implementation in Paraíba, there are already laws dealing with the subject in states such as Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte and São Paulo, in addition to projects in progress in almost all states, as well as in the National Congress. The scenario leads the deputy to hope. “The bill is still going to full, we are still going to discuss with the 36 deputies – there are 30 deputies and 6 deputies in the composition of the house. We will have the opportunity to reverse this picture! I still believe that the project can win the governor’s veto, but it will be hard work and constant persuasion”, he concludes.
Source: BoF Pernambuco
Edition: Vanessa Gonzaga and Rani de Mendonça