For many individuals, their monthly period is an embarrassing and stigmatizing event, but for those who are homeless or have a low income, are students, or are incarcerated, it is something much more dangerous. A lack of menstrual hygiene can lead to serious health risks including skin infections, urinary tract and bladder infections, and toxic shock syndrome. Because of the cost of menstrual supplies, though, many are prevented from adequately caring for their menstrual health. Students, the homeless and low-income, and the incarcerated are regularly confronted by a lack of access to menstrual supplies and are thus forced to use whatever material is available to make their own. These challenges are compounded in jails where inmates are entirely dependent upon correctional officers to meet their needs. Few jurisdictions have sought to lessen this menstrual inequity, but in 2018, the Virginia General Assembly took steps to diminish the burden on incarcerated women in the Commonwealth by passing House Bill 83. House Bill 83 requires the Virginia Department of Corrections to provide free menstrual products to female prisoners and inmates. While this legislation is limited, it is a step in the right direction to ensuring menstrual equity for all those in the Commonwealth.
Holly Seibold & Gianna Fienberg,
Free to Bleed: Virginia House Bill 83 and the Dignity of Menstruating Inmates,
Rich. Pub. Int. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.richmond.edu/pilr/vol22/iss1/6