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9 women detained in Ankara for demanding free feminine hygiene products

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Turkish police dispersed a group of women in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Monday who wanted to stage a protest demanding free feminine hygiene products, detaining nine of them, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

The women were planning to stage the protest in front of the Turkish Parliament when police intervened and dispersed the group. The protest was organized by two women’s groups, Kampüs Cadıları (Witches of the Campus) and Mor Dayanışma (Purple Solidarity).

Access to personal hygiene products has become even more difficult for young girls and women who are either from low-income families or are low wage earners.

Women’s rights group have asked the Turkish government to “follow countries that have made feminine hygiene products free for women” and take the necessary steps to make such products easily accessible to women.

Turkey imposes a value added tax of 18 percent on feminine hygiene products as they are in the luxury product category. Women rights group say these products are essential for women’s health and well-being and that they should be at least be exempted from taxes.

According to a report from the Deep Poverty Network, a Turkish civic initiative helping vulnerable people for two decades, a survey of 103 families showed that 82 percent of them are unable to afford feminine hygiene products.

Data from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) show that there has been a 51 percent price hike in feminine hygiene products over the past year.

Turkey’s wage earners are overwhelmed by increasing prices and are finding it even harder to make ends meet since inflation surged to 36.1 percent in December in the wake of a currency crisis sparked by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s unconventional economic policies.

The Turkish lira lost 44 percent of its value against the dollar last year, with the losses accelerating at the end of the year, leading to a significant loss in the purchasing power of the lira, making it even harder for Turks to buy essential goods and food.

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