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Women in federal prison are not given tampons (yes, really)—but that’s about to change


Federal prisons will provide free tampons Pin It
Photo: Stocksy/Marko Milanovic

Feminine products have come a long way lately (AKA thank god for menstrual realness). First of all, it’s only recently that safer tampons are working their way into the mainstream. Then there’s the fact that women have often been taxed for feminine care products as a luxury, rather than necessity—legislation that’s increasingly being killed. (And, more good news: Some politicians are on a mission to make the female necessities free.)

Now, in a game-changing move for women’s health, the Bureau of Prisons just announced that federal prisons are required to provide both tampons and pads to female inmates, CNN reports. (And no, that wasn’t already happening for some reason.)

“This issue has always been, across the board, an issue all incarcerated women were dealing with.”

Before, inmates got one-size-fits-all pads and had to pay for tampons out of their 12 cents-per-hour salary, which also goes to things like phone calls, says Andrea James, founder of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. “That’s the choice. Do I buy the tampons or do I call my children?” she tells CNN, adding: “This issue has always been, across the board, an issue all incarcerated women were dealing with.”

Now all of the federal facilities will offer two sizes of tampons, maxi pads, and panty liners. Because not every day of your period calls for super-size tampons.

Consider this another step toward the recognition that the biological needs of the period-afflicted (AKA women) are not side issues—and that women’s health and dignity are non-negotiable.

Speaking of periods, meet the Wonder Woman of menstrual realness here. And this is why the wellness world is all about menstrual, hormonal, and childbirth realness right now