How many pads does a menstruating person deserve?

It’s impossible to answer such a personal question. But for the women incarcerated in American prisons, prison administrators decide for them. In many states, incarcerated women are given just 12 pads per month: no tampons and no extras. And with pay for prisoners set at $0.15 an hour, buying more at $2 or $3 a box is simply out of reach. Incarcerated women are regularly forced to choose between menstrual products and a phone call home or other necessities like food or deodorant. The lack of sufficient menstrual products puts incarcerated women at risk of infection. They are also subject to punishments for staining their uniforms and sexual abuse by guards.

Across the country, activists are working to change that. Formerly incarcerated women affected by these outrageous policies and their allies are pushing for bills to guarantee sufficient access to menstrual products for incarcerated people in a number of states, including Arizona, Maryland, Virginia, Nebraska, and Alabama. And the movement is gaining steam: in Arizona, HB 2222 has gained significant public attention from lawmakers, the public and the media. Alabama’s version of the bill, HB 363, is currently awaiting action in the legislature.

Feministing caught up with up with activists Joe Watson of the American Friends Service Committee of Arizona(AFSCAZ) and Vegas Longlois of Greater Birmingham Period (GBP) to talk about the campaigns in their states. Both Longlois and Watson have personal ties to incarcerated people in Arizona and Alabama. Watson was himself formerly incarcerated, and Longlois has a relative currently in prison. Both make clear that this fight goes beyond pads and tampons to encompass questions about the dignity and humanity of incarcerated people.

I asked Watson and Longlois to share their thoughts about the motivations behind these policies and the relationship between menstrual equity and other prison reform and abolition movements.

Source/ rest: feministing.com