Free Period Products: Is It Bananas or Cool?

Activists rally outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh in February in support of legislation for free period products. Jeff Mitchell/Getty Images

On the 24th of November, the Scottish Parliament approved the bill that made “provision for free period products for anyone who needs them.” This is a historical moment, as Scotland is the first country to do so. A survey conducted by Young Scot between students in secondary schools, colleges, and universities showed that a quarter of them had difficulties with access to sanitary products in the previous year, with 43% saying they couldn’t afford to buy it. According to UNICEF and the World Bank, lack of access to menstrual hygiene products forces girls to miss school worldwide, which makes the bill a big step toward improving girls’ education. 

However, not everywhere the news was accepted similarly. Many Russian newspapers wrote about the Scottish bill, and some of them included the opinion of famous people in the Russian media landscape. For example, the magazine The world of news decided to cover this fact with Milonov’s perspective on occasion. Vitaly Milonov is a member of the State Duma, known for his controversial, not to say extravagant, remarks. 

The article entirely focuses on Milonov’s quotes. The event itself is only brought up briefly at the beginning with a link to another article covering it, which is twice as short as the one with Milonov’s quotes. The article goes on by citing and retelling Milonov’s opinion, which is basically “this is bananas, bananas of multiculturalism and tolerance. [Next], children would ask for free diapers.” However, in a Twitter comments section to this quote, a lot of women, in fact, supported it: “free diapers for children is actually a good idea, Vit’!” (“Vit’ — a short version of Vitaly Milonov name). Thus, what the article and Milonov tried to show as an absurd proposition, got an opposite effect, and people suddenly stood by it.

Another magazine, the 360, also brought up the new Scottish bill and Milnov’s quote but decided to compare it with the opinion of the blogger Aiza Dolmatova (Anohina). The first half of the article is dedicated to the new legislation, its history, and why it is vital, highlighting how it would affect schools and girls’ education. Then goes Anohina’s quote, which states that the bill is “cool” and that she likes it. She also mentions that the bill doesn’t discriminate against men, but she thinks that some “spoiled” people might think that way, which is perfectly shown in the last part of the article with Milonov’s opinion. In the Instagram post introducing the article, the authors ask if the readers think that the same kind of bill is needed in Russia. Most people in the comments agree that it would be important to have this legislation.

In the end, I believe it is essential to show people different opinions on the situations. The question is how to do it the best way: to offer only one opinion, or to support it with background information and a contrasting point of view as well?

Written by Anastasia Lavrenyuk

References:

  1. Darya Bunyakova. (2020, November 26). “Milonov opposes free pads and tampons. Aiza disagrees.” 360. Retrieved November 28, 2020, from 360.
  2. Fedor Karpov. (2020, November 27). “Milonov criticizes the Scottish bill about the free pads.” The world of news. Retrieved November 28, 2020. from The world of news.
  3. Laurel Wamsley. (2020, November 25). “Scotland Becomes 1st Country to Make Period Product Free.” NPR. Retrieved November 28, 2020, from NPR.
  4. Mbn360. (2020, November 25). “Will the pads become free?” Instagram comments section. Retrieved November 28, 2020, from Instagram.
  5. MJ. (2020, November 27). Twitter replies. Retrieved November 28, 2020 from Twitter.
  6. The Scottish Parliament. (n.d.). “Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill.” Retrieved November 28, 2020, from The Scottish Parliament.
  7. The World Bank. (2020, May 28). “Periods Don’t Stop for Pandemics – Neither Will Our Efforts to Bring Safe Menstrual Hygiene to Women and Girls.” Retrieved November 28, 2020, from The World Bank.
  8. UNICEF. (2018, May 25). “FAST FACTS: Nine things you didn’t know about menstruation.” Retrieved November 28, 2020, from UNICEF.
  9. Young Scot Corporate. (2018, March). “Insight: Access to sanitary products in Scotland.” Retrieved November 28, 2020, from Young Scot.

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