Women-led groups are trying to change this
In an effort to do away with the taboo around menstruation, women are using transparency to spark change in South Korea.
The country, which is known as one of the manufacturers of menstrual cups and exports to the US, does not allow the selling of menstrual cups within South Korea and, in many cases, plainly disregards the reality women face once a month.
According to QZ, the public outcry for a more inclusive society even led to a former South Korean presidential candidate taking a stand on the price and tax of pads and tampons.
“Sanitary pads should be treated as public goods,” said Lee Jae-myung, a city mayor and presidential candidate, according to QZ. “Our culture sees menstruation as something to be embarrassed about and something that is unclean, preventing the issue of the price of sanitary pads to come under the spotlight.”
Journalism has played a large role in helping dismantle how society views menstruation, going as far as to shine a light on how inaccessible the sanitary items have become for some of South Korea’s neediest girls.
A feature on a 16-year-old South Korean girl who wrapped insole pads in toilet paper to make her own sanitary pads — because the cost of real pads was too high – went viral; eventually with more girls coming forward to share they were doing the same thing.
Since the news went viral, legislation has been brought forward to make alternatives, like the menstrual cup, available for sale in South Korea. In addition, the taboo around periods has slowly begun to diminish with more crowd-funding campaigns sparking up to address the problems, advocacy groups taking to task the current companies that produce the irrationally expensive pads, while also encouraging the government to offer subsidies and support for girls in need of sanitary pads.