Women in Pakistan Shamed For Menstruation During Flood Crisis

Women in Pakistan Shamed For Menstruation During Flood Crisis
Woman delivering menstrual hygiene products. Source: © Mahwari Justice / CBC, 2022.


Catherine Yu 

Pakistan & Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

Over 30 million individuals in Pakistan have been affected by the present climate crisis of overwhelming floods, which have claimed more than 1000 lives, including necessary livestock. In this moment of need, a number of organizations and humanitarian groups are stepping up, volunteering to collect and distribute donated essential items to individuals who have survived the floods. 

Several of these volunteer organizations have also stressed the importance of including sanitary pads in these donations. Despite it being a taboo subject in this conservative Islamic country, monthly menstruation persists even in the midst of a flood. Two female students named Bushra Mahnoor and Anum Khalid developed the ‘Mahwari Justice’ campaign in an effort to address Pakistan's lack of awareness of menstrual hygiene. Bushra Mahnoor claimed that the start of this campaign came as a result of her distressing discovery that many women and girls were using leaves to manage their periods. 

While many individuals have joined the ‘Mahwari Justice’ campaign on social media in the hopes of volunteering, the public discussion of female hygiene has also sparked a number of opposing viewpoints on the initiative itself. Deeming menstrual hygiene products to be a lack of importance or a luxury, inequivalent to food and medicine. However, access to the appropriate products for period management is crucial because using insufficient or dirty items puts users at a serious risk for urogenital infections.

Sources and further reading:

Editorial, I. (2022, September 1). Don't period shame women affected by the floods. Images. Retrieved September 7, 2022, from https://images.dawn.com/news/1190763/dont-period-shame-women-affected-by-the-floods  

Fatima, K. (2022, September 3). Women's group tackles taboo subject to aid Pakistan Flood victims. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved September 7, 2022, from https://www.thejakartapost.com/culture/2022/09/03/womens-group-tackles-taboo-subject-to-aid-pakistan-flood-victims.html 

Haider, S. B. (2022, September 1). Devastating floods in Pakistan and people's menstrual woes. Geo.tv: Latest News Breaking Pakistan, World, Live Videos. Retrieved September 7, 2022, from https://www.geo.tv/latest/437293-devastating-floods-in-pakistan-and-peoples-menstrual-woes