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Three-day menstrual leave offered to women in European first

by Narges Mohammadi

Draft reform put forward in Spain means women would be guaranteed time off during their periods

According to Jahanbanou, women who suffer from severe period pain will be allowed to take leave from work for up to three days each month under a reform plan due to be approved by Spain’s government next week

The draft reform, revealed by the Cadena Ser radio station, will make Spain the first Western country to offer the right to menstrual leave, under which women would be guaranteed time off during their periods

Currently, only some Asian countries including Japan, South Korea and Indonesia, as well as Zambia, grant menstrual leave

Jahanbanou reported that the Spanish Gynecology’s and Obstetrics Society has said, around one-third of women who menstruate suffer from severe pain known as dysmenorrhea, with that proportion rising if pre-menstrual pain is also counted. Dysmenorrhea symptoms include acute abdominal pain, headaches, diarrheas’ and fever

“If someone has an illness with such symptoms a temporary disability is granted, so the same should happen with menstruation – allowing a woman with a very painful period to stay at home,” Angela Rodriguez, the secretary of state for equality, told El Periodico newspaper

Schools to provide sanitary pads

The reform, set to be passed at next Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, includes other measures to improve menstrual health such as a requirement for schools to provide sanitary pads for girls who need them

Sanitary pads and tampons will also be provided free to women in marginalized social circumstances and will have VAT removed from their sale price in supermarkets – a long-standing demand from women in Spain  

In the same reform package, Spain’s Left-wing government is planning to make abortion more widely available by removing the requirement for parental permission for 16 and 17-year-olds and guaranteeing access to terminations in public hospitals

Currently, entire areas of the country are no-abortion zones because of opt-out policies under which doctors can refuse to practice abortions on ethical grounds

Abortion, available on demand up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy, remains a divisive issue in majority Catholic Spain. The country’s parliament recently made it a criminal offence to harass or intimidate women with the object of impeding their right to abortion in response to frequent protests outside abortion clinics

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