Prisons' Quiet Humiliation: a Lack of Menstrual Pads

Columnist: They're kept in short supply, in part to degrade women
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2015 12:25 PM CDT
Prisons' Quiet Humiliation: a Lack of Menstrual Pads

A former inmate at a US women's prison takes to the pages of the Guardian to complain about a quiet way that prisons humiliate and degrade those locked up: with a lack of menstrual pads. Bozelko served at York Correctional Institution in Connecticut, but she says the problem is pervasive in the prison system. "The lack of sanitary supplies is so bad in women’s prisons that I have seen pads fly right out of an inmate’s pants: prison maxi pads don’t have wings and they have only average adhesive so, when a woman wears the same pad for several days because she can’t find a fresh one, that pad often fails to stick to her underwear and the pad falls out," she writes. "It’s disgusting but it’s true."

This isn't just about penny-pinching, either, she writes. It's about how prisons and guards abuse their power over inmates, taking away their self-esteem by forcing them to all but beg for pads or to walk around in stained clothes when they're refused. All this serves "as an indelible reminder of one’s powerlessness in prison." Sanitary pads aren't luxury items, they're a "basic human right" in that they allow women to "retain their dignity," writes Bozelko. "Using periods to punish women simply has no place in any American prison." Click for her full column. (More prison stories.)

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