A 16-YEAR-OLD girl who leaked onto her chair all through a two hour exam was told to be ‘more discreet’ instead of being offered sanitary products.
Tilly, 16, from Cardiff, was a few minutes into her Year 10 English exam last year when she suddenly became aware that her period had started.
She and other pupils had been told tampons and pads would be available in the toilets.
But to her dismay, Tilly couldn’t find any in the toilet at the exam venue.
Instead, she spent the next two hours of her exam leaking onto her chair and ‘not saying a word’.
Tilly’s panic over the situation left her unable to focus on her crucial exam paper.
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“I was sat there for two hours, leaking, in my own blood, without anything I could do. I was so uncomfortable I just couldn’t concentrate,” she said.
At the of those excruciating, Tilly let the other students file out of the exam hall before getting up, too upset to leave the room.
She broke down to her head of year, who chastised her instead of giving her support.
“He told me to be more discreet about it,” Tilly recalled.
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The student went home early as she couldn’t face staying in school after that.
Tilly’s school, in Cardiff, told the BBC it could not comment on the incident but the accessibility of products in the school had improved in the past year.
New data commissioned by a group of UK charities fighting period poverty – Irise, In Kind Direct, Cysters, Freedom4Girls and Bloody Good Period – more than one in 10 schools still don’t provide free period products.
Thirteen per cent of girls stated that their school or college doesn’t offer free period products at all, the charities said.
They revealed that a third of young girls are missing school due to a lack of care or access to period products.
A further 44 per cent of girls feel too embarrassed to ask for period products at school, and a quarter (24 per cent) have been too embarrassed to notify a teacher when they have started their period, according to the group of charities.
In February this year, the Welsh government said it wanted achieve “period dignity” by 2027, improving access to products and reducing stigma.
It committed to ensuring free period products were available at every school and college in the country.
The Scottish government made history in 2018 by becoming the first in the world to make period products free to school, college and university students.
Meanwhile in England, ministers vowed to give free period products to all girls at state schools and colleges under the Period Products Scheme.
Emily Wilson, CEO of Irise International, said: “Despite policy and budget commitments, more work is needed in UK schools to realise the government’s vision of ending period poverty and shame for all by 2025.
“Period poverty and shame are getting worse due to the cost-of-living crisis, meaning that more young people are experiencing anxiety and indignity every month and missing out on crucial education as a result.
“Young people are sick of missing out on class, sports and other opportunities because society won’t prioritise their basic needs. They are done with feeling ashamed and are claiming their right to menstruate with dignity in UK schools,” she stated.
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The charities have joined together in a campaign – Every Period Counts – to:
- All UK schools to make free period products available in a shame-free way to everyone who needs them.
- The UK government to commit to a new action plan to eradicate period poverty and shame in UK schools by 2025
- Politicians to make period dignity a right by legislating for it in England and Wales