Menstruating Girls Being Detained At The Border Are Being Denied Sanitary Napkins
Since the crisis at the border began, we’ve heard a lot of horror stories coming out of border detention centers. Among these stories, reports of basic hygiene products being denied to migrants have especially outraged us. The Trump administration had to be taken to court before it was decided that they would legally have to provide child detainees basics such as toothpaste and soap. Access to medication and healthcare has been limited, resulting in an epidemic of treatable illnesses throughout these camps. It has become obvious that part of the mission in detaining these humans is to treat them as inhumanely as possible.
Unfortunately, it seems that these stories are just the start of the cruel treatment these migrants are being inflicted with.
The newest reports from the border tell that detained girls are being denied the access they need to feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads.
A lawsuit that has been filed by 19 states reports that detained migrant girls are being given limited access to the supplies needed while menstruating. One of the girl’s interviews for the lawsuit claimed that they were only given one tampon or sanitary pad per day. If they bled through these products, the girls “had no choice but to continue to wear [their] soiled underwear.”
In the lawsuit, testimony from civil rights investigator, Alma Poletti, was included. Among her testimony, Poletti said one young woman who was having her period at the time was only allowed to shower after 10 days.
“She recalls there was another girl at the facility who was also on her period. They were each given one sanitary pad per day. Although the guards knew they had their periods, they were not offered showers or a change of clothes, even when the other girl visibly bled through her pants,” Poletti reported in the lawsuit. “This girl had no choice but to continue to wear her soiled underwear.”
Washington’s attorney general, Bob Ferguson, is among those behind the lawsuit that pushes for human treatment of these children and for their release to occur after no longer than 3 weeks of detention.
Ferguson has compared the immigration policies of the current administration to “shameful chapters in American history — the internment of Japanese Americans, and the forced separation of Native American families.” He cited other atrocities as well such as the “lack of toothbrushes, soap or access to shower…extremely cramped cells, younger kids put in cages as punishment and guards throwing food on the ground for children to fight over.”
The current administration’s suggested policy is indefinite detention of these migrants and to ignore the Flores Agreement — a 1997 detention standard for children. According to the president, this new proposal is meant to deter migrants from attempting to come into the United States. However, using cruelty to deter migration is downright immoral and — at this point — illegal.
“Detaining families indefinitely and needlessly inflicting trauma on young children is not an immigration policy — it’s an abhorrent abuse of power,” Ferguson declared in response to the proposed policy. “The president’s actions and policies are cruel, inhumane and illegal.”
Ferguson isn’t the only one outraged and sickened by these claims. Twitter was just as disgusted by the reports coming from detention centers.
Besides being a moral issue, this is a healthcare issue. As this Twitter user explains, forcing the girls to only use one tampon or sanitary pad per day could lead to TSS — Toxic Shock Syndrome. Failure to change sanitary products can result in this dangerous condition and could lead to death. This is a potentially life-threatening act of negligence.
Some users online were outraged about the mental anguish being inflicted onto these girls.
Menstruation can be an emotional part of a young girl’s life. Especially if they don’t have their mothers, grandmothers, aunts or other female family members to walk them through it. These girls are already in a vulnerable place and now they have to suffer extra embarrassment by being denied their rights to general hygienic items and bathing. No doubt, this will cause lifelong trauma that is completely avoidable.
This Twitter user compared the treatment of these young girls to those in the American prison system.
The prison system imposes similar rules on menstruating women as these detention centers are now doing. We also have to consider the girls who have begun menstruating while in detention. How devastating that must be to experience this change without the right emotional support and without the needed supplies.
Since detention centers will not accept donations of any kind, we can only sympathize with these girls and hope that this lawsuit wins out in the end.