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If you’re a woman with a job, you’ve likely heard other women in the workplace dream of calling in sick when they’ve had bad menstrual cramps, a time of the month when the only way to get comfortable is to curl up in a ball with a heating pad on your abdomen and wait for it all to be over.
Italy, it seems, has heard cramp sufferers’ requests. Lower Parliament has started discussing a bill for menstrual leave, which would mandate companies give three days off a month to women who experience extreme period pain. Instead of having to use sick days, as many already do, this would be extra paid time off for those who have a medical certificate attesting to dysmenorrhea, or painful menstruation. If it passes, Italy, already known for its progressive maternity leave laws, would be the first country in the West to offer menstrual leave. Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia already have similar laws.
While many women’s rights activists champion the bill for its validation of women’s health issues, critics argue that this may actually set women back, with companies choosing to hire men over women to avoid the loss of work every month.
Miriam Goi at Vice Italy also argues that menstrual leave could “end up reinforcing stereotypes about women being more emotional during their periods.” However, you could say such a law does the opposite: It substantiates menstrual cramps as a medical condition worth acknowledging, one that could hinder work performance if a woman is expected to just suffer through the pain.
The bill, introduced by four female lawmakers, could be approved in coming months.
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