A Bleeding Battle: The Syrian Refugee Women’s Issue No One is Talking About

With winter just around the corner, no place to call home and the lack of food, you would think Syrian refugees have endured enough of a struggle — but that’s only a portion of what female refugees and women in struggling areas all over the world have to deal with. The last thing on the minds of female refugees should be ways to handle their “time of the month” while fleeing war and looking for a new home that’s safe for their families. Yet, they have to think of what to do every 28 (or so) days.

I’m sure that as women, we can all agree on the cruelness of mother nature’s monthly present to us fierce females. Delivered to us straight from “P.M.S. hell” filled with cramps, headaches, what seems to be an unhealthy amount of blood and some serious attitude; for these female refugees, the wrath of menstruation is on an entirely other level. It’s not enough that they need to endure the uterine pains while having to constantly be up and moving without something simple like Advil to help ease the cramps or backaches. Add in the psychological stress of knowing that you have to do it with a single pair of underwear and quite often, with not enough sanitary napkins or in some cases none at all — that is an unimaginable burden on the mind and body that most, if not all of us reading this will never have to experience.

It is our duty to begin an open dialogue around something that happens to us every single month.

Crossing border after border and moving cities daily — female refugees have limited options when it comes to being a woman on her period. That is why it’s only right that among the other essentials like food, water and clothing, women be provided with an “Aunt Flow survival kit” to help ease the stress during their time of the month and help them properly deal with their flows.

This issue has recently been recognized by international committees with no real immediate action being taken, putting women at an increased risk for disease and infection due to lack of proper hygienic care. It’s seen as “taboo” in some areas of the world to discuss menstrual management in general — so what happens in emergency situations such as that of being a refugee? What are we women supposed to do then? We have to talk about it. This lack of discussion poses a major issue on the timeliness of fixing these so easily fixable problems.

Avoiding the conversation just delays coming to a solution.

Start talking about your period — out loud.

The International Rescue Committee, Oxfam, Save the Children and UNICEF are in the process of developing measures for taking care of menstrual emergencies like that of the refugee crisis, but a struggle still exists with the lack of standardized guidance and no coordinating mechanisms being in place for the menstrual emergency services.

As a result, grassroots women’s groups in the United Kingdom and Germany have taken it upon themselves to gather and create menstrual kits for female refugees suffering from lack of period-related hygienic needs. Along with the help of the Red Cross, they are teaming up to find effective measures in distributing these kits in hopes of at least alleviating some of the monthly mental stress revolving around what to do when their menstruation cycle begins during their migration.

As women, it is our obligation to help tackle these issues that our fellow females are dealing with. It is our duty to begin an open dialogue around something that happens to us every single month. So what if it makes you, or him or them uncomfortable? If the possibility of a few hours of awkward or embarrassing conversation can prevent a woman — who is fleeing her home in search of safety — from having to deal with the stress and embarrassment of having to figure out how to remove a red stain from her pants is what it takes, it’s more than worth it.

Start talking about your period out loud.

To donate to organizations attempting to tackle this issue – follow the links below:

The International Rescue Committee – The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 26 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Oxfam – Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organizations working together with partners and local communities in more than 90 countries to change that world by mobilizing the power of people against poverty. Oxfam works to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive. They save lives and help rebuild livelihoods when crisis strikes.

Save the Children – Save the Children invests in childhood – every day, in times of crisis and for the world’s future. In the United States and around the world, Save the Children gives children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.

UNICEF – UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything they do. Together with their partners, UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.


Image: WikiHow