Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Human Rights Issue

Recently in Korea, there has been a controversy over harmful effects of women's sanitary napkins. A college professor writes a column for the Catholic Peace Weekly about the problem and mentions that chemical products and electronic devices have some undesirable effects and since we can't return to primitive life, it's not possible to eliminate all the harmful elements living in modern times.

Sanitary napkins, however, should be looked at from a different perspective. It is used from girls in their teens to middle age. There are differences but it is not like scrap paper which we use and throw away. Women use the sanitary napkins two days to one week during the menstrual period and it is dangerous that they have not been tested for toxicity before sold in the market.

Women's groups have called for proper inspection and announcement of results. Of course, it is not an easy matter to determine the degree of harm that comes with the contact with the skin of these substances. The whole issue is not one easily understood. She hopes that this incident will help us to be more sensitive on the harm that may be caused.

However, this sanitary napkin problem is not only a consumer problem but a women's human rights issue. There are many concerns about the substances that come into contact with the skin.

One step beyond this is concern for the harmfulness of the contraceptive pill that women take directly and is not properly tested. In the case with emergency contraceptives, the so-called morning-after pill,  which contains high levels of hormones is a dangerous drug. The fact that there is no such discussion on the hormonal contraceptive pill is a violation of the human rights of women.

Compared to the sanitary napkins the risks from the contraceptive pill are so serious that they are unimaginable. In Korea, it is tragic that the only information they have received is from the advertising of the pharmaceutical companies. Does the birth control pill really make our bodies beautiful and the life beautiful like the advertising says?

A society that respects women has an obligation to provide proper information to women. And women should assert their rights. This is our right to a healthy life. Not only sanitary napkins but also the risks of taking contraceptives should be a human rights issue. It's a violation of their rights to recommend a hormone preparation to a woman without any tests of the harmfulness.

Without taking the proper steps to guarantee the safety of the drugs used is this not an example of discrimination towards women when they are told to eat dangerous birth control pills?

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