Abdominal cramps, backaches, headaches, nausea, diarrhea… These are all common symptoms of menstruation, and ladies have to live with them for a handful of decades.
A Malaysian NGO — RedTalks — raised awareness on implementing menstrual leave. According to their definition, menstrual leave is “where a menstruator may have the option to take leave from employment if they are menstruating and unable to work as a result. This may be paid or unpaid“.
Leaving their followers curious about this type of leave that sounds alien to Malaysians, RedTalks mentioned that countries like South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Zambia have been allowing women to apply for menstrual leave.
Netizens expressed that applying for an MC is already an issue in Malaysia’s work culture, let alone something as unfamiliar as menstrual leave. Others explained that some doctors don’t take period pain seriously, and they get mocked when they visited clinics to receive treatment.
On a RedTalks Instagram poll, a total of 61 people voted menstrual leave to be implemented in Malaysia, while one person voted against.
Other than introducing menstrual leave to us, RedTalks had also explained the downside of this type of leave. They mentioned that menstrual leave might be abused by women who don’t actually need it, which is why some employers have the option to offer this leave as unpaid. Besides that, RedTalks suggested that women MAY be discriminated against if companies avoid hiring women. This is due to the associated costs of paid menstrual leave, fear of menstrual leave abuse, as well as their preference for employing staff who do not need such time off (read: men).
Although more people have been normalising menstruation lately, it remains as a stigma in our society where people refuse to accept period as a natural process in a woman’s body. People still seem to make fun of women by asking them, “Is it that time of the month again?” or “You period ah?”.
Not only that it is challenging to go to work or school when we’re suffering from excruciating pain, but also unproductive, especially when we can’t focus.
Period pain is real, and it is not something to be taken lightly of. And remember people, women don’t get to choose to menstruate. We do hope that menstrual leave could be implemented in Malaysia to lift women’s physical burden during menstruation.
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