My Story: Fighting for the Incarcerated Who Struggle to Find Menstrual Hygiene Products

By Saniya Ghanoui —

KH expresses wanting to advocate for women who are incarcerated and in need of menstrual hygiene products based on her own experiences with the prison system.


OBOS Today: So, could you tell me a little bit about why you wanted to talk about menstrual hygiene and incarceration? 

KH: Well, there’s a couple of reasons for that one is just sort of, like, the, the macro eagle eye kind of issue is that over the past couple of years, the issue, the needs, the disparity around the provision of menstrual hygiene products for our incarcerated population has gained a lot of esteem, a lot of attention for a minute there, it was like the sexy, you know issue du jour. And it was something that we worked on here in Maryland. You know, wrote the bill that got it passed in Maryland to make them free and accessible here in Maryland. And so, there’s that piece of it, the policy piece that I worked on the campaign that I built around that issue and some of the strategies that we use. 

But then the other piece of it, the more personal is that I was acutely aware of the problems with people gaining access to menstrual hygiene products and the quality of them for our incarcerated population because of my own incarceration. So, while I when I was incarcerated, I was in chemo induced menopause so I should have had no need for menstrual hygiene products and I ended up, while I was incarcerated, having three significant major bleeding incidents, and when I tried to find menstrual hygiene products and um— 

So I began that navigation, but the long and short term of it is the things that I saw certainly compel me to do the work that I do, but also because of the quality of the products when I came home and because of what I had to do to manage my own menstrual hygiene needs when I was released, I came home and I had to have an emergency hysterectomy because I had Toxic Shock Syndrome from making homemade tampons out of these poor quality state ones.