A recent investigation has revealed the rampant period inequity that exists in detention centers at the southern US-Mexico border.
As the immigration crisis at the United States-Mexico border escalates, news coming out of detention centers displays the egregious human rights violations being committed by the federal government due to the Trump administration's cruel immigration policies. A recently-filed lawsuit has revealed that migrant teen girls detained at the border have been forced to visibly bleed through their clothes after being allocated only one sanitary pad per day. They were forced to remain in soiled underwear and clothes until the following day when they would receive their next pad, The Huffington Post reports. The lawsuit was filed jointly by 19 states across the country.
The lawsuit was filed as a response to the Department of Homeland Security’s newly-established regulations for detaining migrant children. A thorough investigation conducted by a civil rights attorney for Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office resulted in a 26-page document that details the inhumane living conditions detained migrants are forced to endure, focusing especially on teenagers and young children. Not only were young migrants crammed into small quarters, but they were also denied access to basic necessities such as soap and toothpaste.
Even worse still, teenage girls who were menstruating reported that they received only one sanitary pad a day and would not be given additional pads—even if they bled through their clothes. The lawsuit reveals, "Another girl was detained for ten days and never offered a shower, even though she was on her period and was given only one sanitary pad a day. After a number of days, she summoned her courage and asked for a shower, and was given one. 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. This girl had no choice but to continue to wear her soiled underwear and pants."
These girls were confronted with the same so-called "regulations" women in prison face. As per Women's Health Magazine, women in prisons across the United States are often denied showers, sanitary pads and tampons, and even toilet paper. Prison reform advocate Chandra Bozelko explained, "There’s a constant negotiation with correctional officers (COs) to get menstrual health supplies. You’d ask a CO for pads or tampons and he would ask you questions like, ‘How long have you been bleeding? Didn’t I give you a pad yesterday? How long is this one going to last?’ It shouldn’t be shameful—it’s a natural bodily function—but it’s embarrassing to be required to disclose this kind of information and negotiate just to get the supplies you need to stay clean every month.”
It is, of course, both terrifying and disgraceful that women in prisons have to endure such living conditions. Nonetheless, the fact that migrant teens who have committed no crime are placed in comparable situations is nothing short of a human rights violation. California Governor Gavin Newsom, who has taken the lead on the lawsuit, asserted in a statement, "Yet again, President Trump is disregarding basic human rights and using helpless immigrant children as political pawns to further his ideological agenda. California will emphatically assert itself to protect the welfare and safety of all children, regardless of where they come from or the color of their skin." Hopefully, justice will soon be delivered to those who have been subjected to suffering.