Sanitary Pad Issue Sets off Gravity of "Gender Injustice" in Korea | Be Korea-savvy

Sanitary Pad Issue Sets off Gravity of “Gender Injustice” in Korea


A promotional event staged by Yuhan-Kimberly, the leader in the domestic sanitary pad market. (image courtesy by Yuhan-Kimberly)

A promotional event staged by Yuhan-Kimberly, the leader in the domestic sanitary pad market. (image courtesy by Yuhan-Kimberly)

SEOUL, June 1 (Korea Bizwire) – Stories of low-income teenagers using shoe insoles as sanitary pads, unable to afford the actual products, have been causing an uproar throughout Korean SNS.

These real stories, posted on internet community sites, have provided a clear picture of the reality of poverty welfare policies and the deepening gap between the wealthy and the poor.

The issue is gathering attention in particular as it came to light right after a major corporation’s announcement that it will raise the price of its sanitary pad product. Yuhan-Kimberly, the leader in the domestic sanitary pad market, plans to increase the price of its sanitary pads by up to 20 percent starting June 1. 

The stories of low-income teenagers have been shocking, leaving readers appalled. A student who had skipped school for a whole week was found at home simply lying down on top of a towel because she could not afford sanitary pads.

Another student, knowing her parents did not have the money, had no choice but to use a shoe insole instead of asking them to buy sanitary pads for her. Several teenagers also reported that they rolled up toilet paper from their school’s bathroom and substituted it for sanitary pads.

An organization estimated that there are about 60,000 low-income teenagers (between the ages of 15 and 19) who cannot afford sanitary pads, and that many of them live with their grandparents or single parents instead of ordinary nuclear families.

As menstruation is a sensitive issue, teenagers find it difficult to talk to others about what they have to face. This increases the likelihood that there are many teenagers who continue to live with the issue hidden from the awareness of others. 

As the ‘Sanitary Pad Controversy’ garners more attention, many are wondering whether corporations that originally intended to raise sanitary pad prices will continue with the planned increases. For instance, the Korea National Council of Consumer Organizations has already asked Yuhan-Kimberly to cancel the planned  price increases.

Crowdfunding campaigns in which donors from the general public fund sanitary pad purchases for needy teenagers have also been set in motion. With the recent stories surfacing online, the support of social institutions is another possibility generating attention.

Mayor Lee Jae-myeong of Seongnam, famous for his progressive welfare policies, revealed that he plans to begin a sanitary pad support program for low-income teenagers. (image courtesy of Mayor Lee's Facebook)

Mayor Lee Jae-myeong of Seongnam, famous for his progressive welfare policies, revealed that he plans to begin a sanitary pad support program for low-income teenagers. (image courtesy of Mayor Lee’s Facebook)

Social venture company ‘Ease and More’, for example, established an agreement with the ‘Love for Single Parents’ organization, and has been providing sanitary pads to low-income girls since last month.

Mayor Lee Jae-myeong of Seongnam, famous for his progressive welfare policies, revealed that he plans to begin a sanitary pad support program for low-income teenagers.

“Seongnam will be the first to create a ‘Sanitary Pad Support Plan for Low-Income Adolescents’,” said Mayor Lee in a Facebook post on May 30.

“The plan will not cost much, but I do foresee difficulties during the selection and management methods. Nevertheless, we will make sure not a single person’s human rights and dignity will be offended,” he promised. Mayor Lee added that he instructed the relevant department to begin the plan immediately starting next year.

In early January, Mayor Lee caused a stir when he announced that Seongnam would independently implement a three-part welfare program that provides monetary support for young adults, free uniforms for students, and postpartum support.

Under this policy, young adults 24 years of age or older who have been Seongnam residents for more than three years receive 500,000 won per year; new middle school students receive 150,000 won towards school uniforms; and new mothers receive 250,000 won in financial support.

At the time, the benefits were double these listed amounts, but program funding decreased due to opposition from the central government.

On a different note, some individuals stated that if low-income teens had to experience humiliation for the lack of access to sanitary pads, it is an issue of human rights rather than social welfare.

They pointed out that in a Korean society that aims to become an advanced, high-tech digital country of the 21st century, the reality of some teens not being able to afford the most basic daily product is emblematic of  the country’s societal regression.

By Esther J. Kim (esther.jiyoung@koreabizwire.com)

 

3 thoughts on “Sanitary Pad Issue Sets off Gravity of “Gender Injustice” in Korea

  1. Norell

    I have absolute, deep sympathy and empathy for these poor young teenage girls who cannot afford the expensive, high-tech feminine hygiene products sold by the Machine in Korea.

    BUT this is just an example of the economic system that keeps people mortified, horrified of their true nature, brainwashed into submission, ashamed and afraid to Create, SHAMED for thinking outside the box, shamed for their Inventiveness, Disconnected from History and the Earth’s bounty and Disconnected from themselves.

    Women do not “NEED” the feminine hygiene products that the commercial industry provides. The Very Mother EARTH does not need its entire population of women mindlessly polluting her land and waters with used pads that will clog our landfills for centuries to come due to their plastic content.

    Women have been bleeding monthly since the beginning of time. Tampax, Always-Ultra-Thin-Long-With-Wings, Yuhan-Kimberly or whatever corporate brand is trying to shove the “You NEEEED ME or Else Nobody will Love You for your are an Evil, Unclean Woman” propaganda down our fucking throats at the moment, have been around for a comparative blink of an eye.

    Centuries ago, women pulled moss off of trees and shoved it up their yoni’s for free during their moon. I understand that many women now live in cities and do not have access to moss growing on trees anymore, but as it so happens, one can also take clean recycled cotton cloth from an old garment, mold it into the relative shape of a tampon, and shove it up there too and it works just fine and a few hours later, one takes it out, rinses, washes and repeats.

    We can also, with our sewing skills passed down since nearly the beginning of time from our mothers, take clean recycled cloth and make, yes MAKE our own cute and environmentally conscientious reusable sanitary products, as demonstrated here:
    http://tipnut.com/free-pattern-for-washable-feminine-menstrual-pads/

    In fact, in Boulder, where I am “from,” it’s quite trendy, noveau and cutting edge to be off-the-feminine-hygiene-grid and have the entirety of our maintenance and self care be one, budget-conscious closed system of self-empowerment and sustainability (to offset the budget-draining aspect of life in Boulder obviously. ^^)

    Take this from someone who hasn’t spent a single cent on feminine hygiene products in over 5 years now and I bleed like a motherfucker every 30-35 days. Thank you Moon Cup and Diva Cup. You were an initial investment of $30 that continues to serve me and the Earth well.

    It is my hope that we can empower these girls to believe in their own inventive nature (wow!!!! to that girl who used a shoe insert…. although aren’t shoe inserts more expensive than pads?) and not shame and brainwash them into economic codependency and environmental apathy.

    I find this article manipulative, although maybe not intentionally. Like it “appears” to be fighting for greater provisions for women (good) while at the same time subliminally trying to keep women small and mentally enslaved by implying that we need economy driven-products, much like the pharmaceutical industries and fast food industries work.

    Whew. My throat chakra is spinning like a sprinkler on the 4th of July after shouting the word “fuck” across the internet so many times. How HEALING! (I’m not angry. I’m just feeling fiery as fuck. ^^)

    Reply
    • Shinnokina

      “one can also take clean recycled cotton cloth from an old garment, mold it into the relative shape of a tampon, and shove it up there too and it works just fine and a few hours later, one takes it out, rinses, washes and repeats”
      let me guess, you are a guy? Jesus, please try to do this yourself and then tell women what to do. “wash rinse and repeat”. are you at your right mind? We are not living in the fucking middle ages you retard! women work in offices, at different workplaces, yeah, try to pull a bloody cloth out and WASH it in the office and PUT it back (it’s WET, how is it going to swallow any more blood when wet?) and then PLEASE sit down for a meeting with your boss. OR meet a customer. Or tend to a patient. Sove that moss up your own ass!

      Reply

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