Tampon makers can help cut violence against women

New York: Manufacturers of feminine hygiene products, including tampons and sanitary products, could generate vital funds for effective programmes that prevent violence against women, say researchers led by one of Indian origin. Physical and sexual violence is a public health problem that affects more than one-third of all women, equivalent to at least a billion women globally, according to World Health Organisation (WHO). Consequences of such violence include physical injuries, psychological trauma and also results 43,500 untimely deaths a year worldwide, the researchers said. Effective programmes and strategies to prevent domestic and sexual violence are "hugely underfunded," said S.D. Shanti, Associate Professor at A.T. Still University in the US. The tampon making industry with its "huge market of essential goods", could dedicate a part of their revenues to support public health programmes that prevent violence against women. Global annual sales of feminine hygiene products are projected to total $15.2 billion by 2017. On the other hand, lost productivity related to such violence against women diminishes the world's gross domestic product by 3.7 per cent. Even 0.5 per cent of sales when donated to the United Nations could generate huge vital support for programmes in desperate need of funding, Shanti added. The United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women received grant requests of $1.1 billion. However, they were awarded only $8.4 million -- less than 1 per cent of the demand. This scenario highlights the widespread problem of insufficient funding for public health in general and especially for violence against women because of the stigma attached, Shanti explained. While any business can support the prevention of violence against women, the tampon manufacturing industry is "uniquely positioned to engage in corporate social responsibility by investing in the health of women, and reducing the harm and costs associated with violence," Shanti said. "It is only right that tampon manufacturers give something back to their customers, as long as these costs aren't simply passed on to consumers," Shanti noted. Violence against women is a global health problem on a scale bigger than HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, said the paper published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).