How Do Homeless Women Cope With Periods?


(originally posted on December 19, 2016, from Affinity Magazine)

For anyone who has to endure periods, you know just how awful it truly is, but for homeless women, it is a whole different story.

According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2015 annual homeless assessment report, 39.7% of all homeless people in the United States are women. 50,000 of those women are unsheltered and living on the streets. This means that for homeless women, they often won’t know where to turn when they are trying to take care of their feminine hygiene needs, which therefore often leads to many homeless women having to make the difficult decision between food and tampons.

This problem directly correlates with the cost of sanitary products, as the average cost for sanitary products per package in the United States is $5.84 for pads and $7.62 for tampons. It is also estimated that the average annual cost for pads is $70 and $90 for tampons. In Britain, the average cost for a box of tampons from supermarkets is between 2 to 3 pounds, which is normally the same price for pads. However, local shops tend to sell pads and tampons as high as £5. The average person who has a period knows that other items such medication for cramps, new underwear, hot water bottles and chocolates can accumulate to be rather expensive, which means that those additional items to help treat periods are not an option for homeless women.

A short video conducted by ‘Bustle’ shows just how difficult that time of the month can be for homeless women. The women talked about how they have used plastic bags, towels, napkins, socks and many other items as an alternative to tampons or pads. Because of this, they are more prone to getting infections and homeless women who can purchase tampons are much more prone to toxic shock syndrome because they are more likely to have them in for a longer duration of time. One woman, Alexa, stated, “I’d rather be clean than full.” Homeless women don’t have the option of buying new clothes if they bleed on them during their period, and this can be an extremely embarrassing situation, which will often damage their dignity.

It is reported that homeless shelters don’t always provide these essentials because they are deemed to be ‘luxury’ products. This also goes for some prisons and schools.

Many different movements and organisations have pushed for more awareness, as this issue needs to be addressed. Hashtag Happy Period being one of them. Happy Period’s aim is to provide menstrual hygiene kits to the homeless who would otherwise go without out. They recognize and support teenagers, nonbinary, and the LGBTQ community. The Homeless Period is another movement, which addresses this issue, as they believe that tampons and towels should be made available to homeless shelters, the same way the government provides condoms.

You can support this cause by donating tampons and towels to homeless shelters, or directly giving these essential products to homeless women, or checking out Hashtag Happy Period and The Homeless Period to get involved.


Ohio Passes Bill That Will Ban Abortion As Early As Six Weeks


(Originally posted December 9, 2016, from Affinity Magazine)

On Tuesday, the Ohio legislature passed a bill that would prohibit women from receiving an abortion once a heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as 6 weeks when most women don’t even know they are pregnant.

In previous years the ‘heartbeat bill’ has been passed twice by Ohio’s House, yet failed to pass Ohio’s Senate. However, a few days ago both Ohio’s House and Senate have passed the ‘heartbeat bill,’ which means that Ohio lawmakers have sent the bill to Governor, John Kasich, who has ten days to make a decision. Kasich has yet to make a statement about what he will do. Kasich has stated that he opposes abortion, with the exceptions of rape or incest. The new bill allows no exceptions for rape, incest, fetal anomaly, or for women who have conditions such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis.

The controversial and strict bill has received backlash from the media, as the bill violates current constitutional standards and women’s rights. Many argue that passing a 6-week ban for abortations will actually ban the majority of abortations in Ohio.

“If this law would take effect, it really is a flat-out abortion ban,” said Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

For the past forty years, The Supreme Court prohibits states from banning abortion before a fetus is considered viable outside the womb, which is normally between 24 to 28 weeks of gestation. However, on Thursday, the Republican-led legislature passed a new bill, which would make abortion illegal after 20 weeks, as according to anti-abortion opponents, this is when a fetus can experience pain. This means that the Governor now has the option of either signing the 6 weeks or 20 weeks bill. The bills will allow doctors who are found guilty of performing an abortion after 20 weeks to be prosecuted. Ohio is not the only state to propose a heartbeat bill, as in 2013 North Dakota and Arkansas attempted to pass similar laws, however, the court ruled them as unconstitutional in 2015 and the abortion laws were never enacted

Many are concerned that the bill will impact the landmark decision, Roe v Wade. Ohio’s most known anti-abortion group, ‘Ohio Right to Life’ is behind the 20-week bill. The group believe that strategically, a 20-week ban, oppose to the 6-week ban, is the best way to work towards overturning Roe v wade. Ron Hood, a Republican legislator in the Ohio House of Represnetivtives, stated that “rape and incest are heinous acts that should be penalized criminally. Why should we penalize the baby?”

Donald Trump’s presidential win is believed to be what encouraged Ohio lawmakers to push the bill for the third time, as they believe that the new Supreme Cout would be more likely to approve the ‘heartbeat’ bill.“A new president, new supreme court appointees change the dynamic, and there was a consensus in our caucus to move forward,” said senate president Keith Faber.

Famine Declared In South Sudan


Earlier the week, the UN declared famine in parts of South Sudan. The UN stated that the war and crippling economy has resulted in 100,000 people suffering from starvation in South Sudan. The severe food shortage crisis has been announced to be located in parts of Unity State in the northern-central part of South Sudan.

The World Food Programme (WFP) and other UN agencies estimated that a further 1 million people living in South Sudan are at high risk of famine and that unrestricted humanitarian access is urgently required in order to reverse what they called “an escalating catastrophe.”

According to a recent and updated Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report, around 4.9 million people, which is more than 40% of South Sudan’s population, are in desperate need of food, agriculture and nutrition assistance. In addition, the data that the IPC report was based on was collected over recent months, and they added that the amount of food insecure people is expected to increase to 5.5 million in July if urgent assistance is not provided in order to reduce the severity of the famine.

The IPC report found that acute malnutrition remains a major problem in South Sudan. Using recent information, they assessed 23 of the 86 counties and found that 14 have Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) at or above 15%. Mayendit had GAM levels of 27.3%

Serge Tissot, a FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organisation) representative in South Sudan stated,

“Famine has become a tragic reality in parts of South Sudan and our worst fears have been realised. Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive.”

Tissot continued to add, “The people are predominately farmers and war had disrupted agriculture. They’ve lost their livestock, even their farming tools. For months there has been a total reliance on whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch.”

Due to conflict last year, food production in South Sudan suffered and market failure has left the people of South Sudan struggling to cope with the massive change in price rises for basic food items.

Since an upsurge in conflict, humanitarian assistance from NGO’s has reduced the risk of famine in other regions of South Sudan, including Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, according to the IPC Report.

 The WFP aims to provide humanitarian assistance, which includes emergency food, cash, and nutrition assistance to 4.1 million people this year, during the “hunger season,” which is when food from the last harvest has run out but new crops haven’t come in yet.

It is reported that the UK will provide South Sudan and Somalia aid packages of £100 million each after the announcement of famine in South Sudan and continued warnings of famine in Somalia. The UK’s humanitarian contribution is believed to help more than a million people, as it will provide food, safe drinking water and emergency healthcare in the regions worst affected by violence and drought.

The UN also warns that Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria are also at high risk of famine.



Dylann Roof Sentenced To Death 

Dylann Roof, a white supremacist, who was found guilty of the murder of nine black people after he entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina and opened fire, has been sentenced to death. 
Last month, Roof was convicted of 33 federal charges, including hate crimes and murder. On December 7th, Roof’s trial began, in which he could face a lifetime in prison or the death penalty. Roof’s heinous act was motivated by race, as he stated in his confessions video that he “had to do it because somebody had to” and that “blacks are raping and killing white people on the streets every day.”

The Jurors, which was made up of twelve members, deliberated for nearly three hours before reaching their verdict.

Roof attempted to persuade the jury to spare his life, he stated, “I think it’s safe to say nobody in their mind wants to go into a church and kill people,” he told the Jury. “In my [FBI confession] tape I told them I had to. No one made me. What I meant was: I felt like I had to do it.” Roof continues by telling the Jury that, “Anyone, including prosecution, who thinks I’m filled with hate has no idea what hate is. They don’t know anything about hate.”
During Roof’s trial, he represented himself and denied that he had any physiological problem. Roof also did not question any witnesses or put up any evidence.

Carrie Fisher Dies From Heart Attack. 

Actress Carrie Fisher dies at age 60, days after suffering from a heart attack. 

Carrie Fisher, best known for her iconic  role as Princess Leia Organa in the original Star Wars movies. 

Family spokesman Simon Halls released a statement on behalf of Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd: 

“It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning,” reads the statement.

“She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”

Fisher was flying from London to Los Angeles on Friday, Dec. 23, when she went into cardiac arrest.

White Supremacist Dylann Roof Found Guilty.

In June 2015, a white man from South Carolina walked into a church and murdered 9 innocent Black people. This man is called Dylann Roof, a white supremacist  

It’s been over a year since tragedy strucked Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, after Dylann Roof,22, murdered 9 Black Americans, who he was sitting with for an hour, in a racially motivated hate crime. 

On December 7th, Roof’s death penalty trial began. In the confession videos, which were recently released to the public, Roof stated that he picked the Charleston church because he ” knew that would be a place to get a small amount of black people in one area.” The white supremacist then went on to state that he  “had to do it because somebody had to,” and that “blacks are raping and killing white people on the streets everyday… What (he) did is still minuscule to what they’re doing to white people every day.” In addition to the confession videos that were recorded by the FBI, Roof kept a journal, which was found in his car. Within this journal, Roof wrote: ” we have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the Internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.” Roof also admitted to being inspired by the murder of Trayvon Martin. 

Yesterday, Roof was found guilty of all 33 charges, including hate crimes, murder, attempted murder and obstruction of religion, and he could face the death penalty. 

The same Jury that found Roof guilty will meet him again on Janurary 3rd 2017 to decide on his punishment. This means that Roof will either recieve a life sentence or the death penalty.