Connect with us

Health

I grew up in Iran, when the Islamists took over we were forbidden from talking about periods and had to use old rags instead of pads or tampons. Here’s how I’m fighting back

Published

on

An Australian pharmacist who grew up in Iran with limited access to pads and tampons has started her own brand of period products. Shida Kebriti was born in Iran and had a peaceful upbringing in the ‘wealthy and rich’ country before the revolution in the mid-seventies when the topic of periods became ‘forbidden’.

The 1978/79 Iranian Revolution, also known as the Islamic Revolution, led to the toppling of the western-backed monarchy and installation of a fundamentalist Islamic regime.

The new government enforced a return to conservative values – scrapping major amendments including the Family Protection Act which gave women rights in marriage, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Islamic dress codes were enforced and speaking freely about women’s matters such as periods, with men in the family, was banned. So girls could not speak out about the dwindling availability of period products.

Advertisement

By the time she was in her early teens, Shida said period products were difficult to find and many women would make do by using old pieces of material when they couldn’t buy pads or tampons.

‘Sadly, these women have no choice, they’re not worried about what’s good or what’s bad. They just find anything they can use,’ she told FEMAIL.

‘I haven’t been back for a number of years so I’m hoping things have changed but I still hear there are a lot of areas that women will not have access to pads and tampons.’

The 45-year-old’s upbringing coupled with her time working in an Indigenous community less than hour outside Sydney where woman and girls struggled to find hygiene products gave her a passion for abolishing period poverty.

Advertisement

She developed Respect

under her pharmaceutical brand Soodox with a line of pads, tampons and period underwear made using environmentally-friendly materials and no nasty chemicals as well as a pH-balanced wash and pain relievers.

Shida explained since the late seventies when the Iranian revolution began, citizens have had limited access to imported products including pads and tampons.

‘Foreign products are not provided, and the marketplace still relies on supply from domestic sources. Therefore, it’s very limited, but this is not an uncommon thing in the whole Middle East area,’ she said.

Advertisement

‘Through the Middle East, even in countries that don’t have a sanction, they still have limited access to this type of product.’

She said women would find ways to make do without pads and tampons when they weren’t available at the pharmacy.

‘A lot of women would use a (handmade) cotton reusable pads type of thing if you had it but then washing them could be quite difficult if you didn’t have access to washing equipment,’ Shida said.

Shida said period products were difficult to find and many women would make do by using old pieces of material when they couldn’t buy pads or tampons

Advertisement

The problem women had finding suitable feminine hygiene products was made more difficult as periods were something no one spoke of.

‘You don’t talk about it you father or your brothers, it’s a very, very forbidden topic,’ she said.

‘It’s still a forbidden topic, people don’t want to talk about it. Even some parents have difficulty discussing it with their children.’

When Shida and her family moved to Australia when she was in her mid teens, she saw an immediate difference in the attitudes to periods.

Advertisement

Feminine hygiene products were abundantly available at supermarkets and pharmacies and while the topic was still a taboo, Aussies weren’t as shy when it came to talking about periods.

However in her adult life when she became a pharmacist, Shida found there were even places in Australia where people who menstruated had as much difficulty finding pads and tampons as the women in Iran.

She did some work in an Indigenous community in Wyong, which is only less than an hour’s drive from Sydney.

‘I couldn’t believe only 45 minutes away from north of Sydney there are still so may Aboriginal girls who have no access to basic period products and they don’t know how to deal with it,’ Shida said.

Advertisement

‘Young girls would use things like socks or part of a t-shirt as a pad because they don’t have access to the right products. Sometimes they would be too embarrassed to ask because they couldn’t afford to buy the product.’

Shida said she met many girls and women in the community who missed out on basic education around their periods.

‘The concept of having a period and bleeding had not been explained to them very well. There are many reasons why, such as they live in a foster home where nobody is there to support them,’ she recalled.

‘When they get their period, they are not prepared. Especially, not prepared it for the cost involved with getting the products that they require.’

Advertisement

Shida said pads were one of the most stolen items in the Wyong pharmacy she worked in.

‘If someone is living in a foster home, for example, they might live on a very limited budget. They’ll be like lucky to get one or two meals a day,’ she said.

‘So for them do they get the next meal or do they get the pads. And I guess most of the time they probably wanted to have the next meal.’

Shida found there were places in Australia where people who menstruated had just as much difficulty finding pads and tampons when she worked in an Indigenous community just outside Sydney

Advertisement

Her strong-held belief that things like pads and tampons should be globally accessible to all people who get periods drove her to create her own line.

After working in the pharmaceutical industry for so many years she became hyper aware of the environmental damage created by and harmful chemicals contained in things like pads and tampons.

‘The key factor was that I wanted products that are plastic free and very good for women’s health,’ she said.

‘A woman can use up to 20,000 pads during their menstrual cycle and that’s not even considering liners or pre or post menopause, this is just on your period.’

Advertisement

Shida said many big-brand period brands contain nasties like bleach or pesticides – and those buying them have no idea.

‘We just purchase the first available product at a supermarket or pharmacy, because that’s what we’ve been told to do – buy a pad or a tampon. We don’t think about the product that we’re using,’ she said.

‘We don’t ask questions, is it good for me? Is it safe? We just purchase it without even reading ingredients. As well, a lot of people will make a decision based on price.’

Shida’s using Respect by Soodox to education people with periods on what they’re putting in their body during that time of the month.

Advertisement

‘A lot of women can get sensitivity in their private area and the whole vagina in general. There are so many different reasons why. Simply you could be allergic to the product you are using,’ she said.

‘Generally what happens is that we go to the doctor and they prescribe Canesten cream and then you just go through this whole cycle again.’

She created a period wash to keep the vagina clean without affecting its pH-levels and alleviate any irritation that may occur.

Shida’s using her brand Respect by Soodox to education people with periods on what they’re putting in their body during that time of the month

Advertisement

‘When you are using a face cream and it gives you an allergic reaction. You stop using it. You should be doing the same but for you private area which is why we developed the period wash,’ she said.

There are also plastic, pesticide, bleach-free pads and tampons as well as reusable period underwear.

‘Our products are cotton and not grown by pesticides, there’s no bleaching being used,’ Shida said.

‘They don’t have chemicals in them, chemicals that then get inserted into your body say four or five times a day for one week every month.’

Advertisement

Shida wants encourage menstruating Aussies not to be shy when it comes to talking about their periods to break down the stigma and help women not only understand their bodies better but not hesitate to speak out or ask for help when something is wrong.

‘Everyone deals with hormonal changes, and everyone reacts differently. You speak to some women and they’ve never experienced any PMS and you speak to some others and they go through it very severely,’ she said.

‘You need to discuss this with your parents, partners or friends. They need to be aware of your symptoms and how you’re affected.’

‘This way if you’re reacting or overreacting or you’re feeling down, they can support you in the right way. I believe this topic circles the conversation about mental health.’

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: When young Nigerian sees politician who buy car for N160M as model, the country future is doomed–Obi

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Grains allegedly yet to be released to Nigerians two weeks after President Tinubu’s directive

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: How to end kidnapping, food shortage, boost economy within three months – Analyst tells Nigerian govt

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Bayelsa Coalition Writes Tinubu, Seeks Justice Over Opu-Nembe Killings; Cautions Attorney General Against Abandoning Case

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: NPA suspends Sentuo Oil Refinery’s approval to sell specific finished fuel products – Report

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: I Was Removed As National Chairman Of APC, But They Could Not Remove My Fighting Spirit- Oshiomhole

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Mike Tyson knocks Biden, wants amnesty for all marijuana offenders

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Niger govt signs 252 road contracts across 25 LGs

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Completion Of Millennium Center Will Boost Tourism In Abuja, Wike Tells Arabian Envoy

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Lagos Deputy Governorship Candidate resigns from Labour Party

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Kwankwaso regains control of NNPP as court sets aside suspension of party’s national leader

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Lagos state taskforce arrests 110 suspects specializing in destroying rail track

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Reps To Hold Valedictory Session For Late Ghali Na’bba Today

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Senator Sunday backs Tinubu’s single exchange rate policy

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: All Nigerian flights banned from Republic of Niger’s airspace

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Plateau Governor Reinstates 3,879 Civil Servants

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: The Presidency on suspension of Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s spokesperson

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Nigeria’s Lawmakers Call for Better Emergency Response

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Governor Alia gives 2-week ultimatum to Fulani herdsmen to leave Benue

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Mr President has emphasized that our people in the rural areas must be given attention–Nyesom Wike

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Governor Alia gives 2-week ultimatum to Fulani herdsmen to leave Benue

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: When young Nigerian sees politician who buy car for N160M as model, the country future is doomed–Obi

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: All Nigerian flights banned from Republic of Niger’s airspace

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: I Was Removed As National Chairman Of APC, But They Could Not Remove My Fighting Spirit- Oshiomhole

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Senator Sunday backs Tinubu’s single exchange rate policy

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Grains allegedly yet to be released to Nigerians two weeks after President Tinubu’s directive

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: NPA suspends Sentuo Oil Refinery’s approval to sell specific finished fuel products – Report

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Bayelsa Coalition Writes Tinubu, Seeks Justice Over Opu-Nembe Killings; Cautions Attorney General Against Abandoning Case

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Lagos state taskforce arrests 110 suspects specializing in destroying rail track

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Kwankwaso regains control of NNPP as court sets aside suspension of party’s national leader

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: How to end kidnapping, food shortage, boost economy within three months – Analyst tells Nigerian govt

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Completion Of Millennium Center Will Boost Tourism In Abuja, Wike Tells Arabian Envoy

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Lagos Deputy Governorship Candidate resigns from Labour Party

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Reps To Hold Valedictory Session For Late Ghali Na’bba Today

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Mr President has emphasized that our people in the rural areas must be given attention–Nyesom Wike

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Nigeria’s Lawmakers Call for Better Emergency Response

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Mike Tyson knocks Biden, wants amnesty for all marijuana offenders

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: The Presidency on suspension of Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s spokesperson

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Niger govt signs 252 road contracts across 25 LGs

Politics10 hours ago

BREAKING: Plateau Governor Reinstates 3,879 Civil Servants

Trending