Public Protector,Busisiwe Mkhwebane said her office will be investigating the free sanitary pads for SA girls, come next year.
The protector, who visited Independent Media on Friday, said she would launch an investigation into free sanitary pads for SA girls.
She said she believes the South African girls are entitled to free sanitary pads, especially seeing how the government provides free condoms to prevent HIV infection.
“Government is providing free condoms to deal with the scourge of HIV/Aids,” Mkhwebane said, making mention of an article where some teenagers in Limpopo are exposing themselves to prostitution just to have money to buy the sanitary pads.
She said though she is aware that the process would take much time to achieve, she is ready to take on the task.
“It will take time, because it is about their policies so the department of health will have to look into their policies, look into the budgetary process, so it will be a long process, but then we will have to engage with them.”
Concern have been raised on the need to provide free sanitary pads for SA girls. Women who can’t afford sanitary pads in South Africa reportedly use scraps of cloth or even leaves during menstruation, and are thus at significant risk of infection.
Many impoverished young girls miss school activities due to this problem and although the numbers are known to be high, Africa Check reported there is no accurate data on how many girls are affected.
SA government, this year announced it was switching to an improved brand of free condoms – flavored ones – in the hope of encouraging people to start using them again.
This has hitherto, been been condemned by women’s rights activists who sees the idea as one that encouraged safer sex alone without proper consideration of the basic needs of women.
To them also, this was a another broken promise by the government who pledged in 2011 to provide free sanitary pads to girls in disadvantaged areas. The money the government had spent improving condoms, should have gone into getting pads to girls who need them, the activists say.
Under the slogan “Sex is a choice and menstruation is not,” a number of women’s rights advocates have taken to social media, suggesting the government consider solving this challenge by making these pad available for women free of charge.