The issue of ‘period poverty’ has been widely spread in recent days with many women coming forward to share their experiences in having to face their period when they were unable to purchase sanitary towels. It was also widely reported that many women chose to get pregnant just so that they are able to skip their periods.
This however, did not go down well as some women argued that its ridiculous and that there is no such thing as period poverty in Malaysia.
After those comments were made, Malaysians such as Endang Hyder took offense as she felt that people were dismissing these claims without having never gone through such experiences and levels of poverty.
Endang’s story was recently highlighted by a local period poverty social movement network called, ‘Pedulimerah’. Her story highlights how anyone could suddenly be affected by period poverty.
From being able to afford pads to experiencing period poverty
In the post, Endang writes, “I come from a pretty well to do family background. We were able to purchase basic necessities without having to think twice of the price.”
As the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns begun in the country, “My family and I were still able to survive as our savings at the time would allow my family of six to sustain for two years.”
However, the health of her father had deteriorated ever since April 2020 depleted their finances.
“Medical costs and the cost of commuting to the hospital every day made it increasingly difficult for us to survive when a pandemic struck. I also have three children to feed.”
“On average, my period will come every 20 -21 days and will occur for five to seven days. My replacement frequency is every 3 hours. The use of disposable sanitary napkins that I needed cost around RM60, and I need to use sanitary napkins that use a material that does not irritate the skin around my vagina,” she added.
RM15 is cheap for some people, but it’s a titan amount to those who can’t afford it
Around July 2020, she realised that she needed to reduce costs to meet the dietary needs of her parents and children. “So I switched to a cheaper brand of sanitary napkins which cost around RM15.”
“RM15 is a small value for those who can afford it but during my situation at that time, I felt that the value of RM15 could be instead spent on a small piece of raw chicken that can feed my family members for four days. I then tried to look for a solution which means that I would not have to buy sanitary napkins.”
“Since I had a polar eating disorder back when I was in my 20s, a solution that I thought of at the time was to ‘fast’ so that my menstruation cycle is interrupted which in turn will result in me not menstruating. This not only saves money on the need for sanitary napkins, but allows me to allocate money for food I can give to my family members,” she said.
Linking back to why some women might resort to getting pregnant in order to avoid their periods, Endang said, “I understand why they choose this method and I will not dispute why. Their purpose is good for the short and long term, because sanitary napkins are expensive. The money used for the need to buy these sanitary napkins can provide quality food to other family members.”
Women in poverty being ridiculed
She concluded her post with, “I hope that the government decides to channel the need for quality sanitary napkins to all households throughout Malaysia and help women have more knowledge in order to be able to cope and manage health and personal hygiene during menstruation.”
Speaking to WORLD OF BUZZ, Endang explained that she decided to share her experience after feeling insulted and ridiculed by those who laughed at the fact that some women get pregnant just to avoid their period.
“It seems like these privileged women do not understand what some women have had to go through. Instead of supporting, they laugh and ridicule other women,” she said.
Thankfully, she and her family are in a slightly better place
Endang clarified that although she has only recently shared her experience, all of this happened last year and at the start of this year.
Endang who is a popular violinist has also turned to her fans for tips for her online performances to survive. She shared some good news to us, which is that an undisclosed person has decided to sponsor her an all expenses paid trip to Jakarta in order to work on her album.
However, despite her future looking bright, she explained that she hopes to continue doing online performances so that her fans are able to tip her. “I am still relying on tips to help my family with their financial situation.”
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