In a historic move, Spain became the first European country to allow women the option to take menstrual leave for three to five days. The country's parliament also passed laws which make it easier for trans people to change their gender and expands access to abortion procedures.
The law was passed after it received 191 votes in favour and staunch opposition from right-wing parties. "Today is a historic day of progress in feminist rights: the new Abortion Law and the Trans Law and LGTBI rights are going to be law," Spain's Equality Minister Irene Montero, who was the driving force behind the law, said ahead of the vote.
With the new law, period products will now be offered free in schools and prisons, while state-run health centers will do the same with hormonal contraceptives and the morning after pill.
Along with menstrual leave, the parliament passed a series of reforms that allow even minors aged 14 and 15 to apply for gender change with their parents' or legal guardians' approval. Moreover, a separate law was passed that banned "conversion therapy" for LGBTQ people and provides state support for lesbians and single women seeking IVF treatment.
The laws also sought to change the current abortion system by enshrining in law the right to have an abortion in a state hospital. State hospital doctors will not be forced to carry out abortions, provided they’ve already registered their objections in writing.
What was the system before?
To change their gender, previously, transgender people needed a diagnosis by several doctors of gender dysphoria and proof of hormone treatment for two years, according to a report by DW. This process was more complicated for minors as it also included mandatory judicial authorization.
In the context of abortion, more than 80% of termination procedures in Spain used to be carried out in private clinics due to a high number of doctors in the public system who refuse to perform them — with many citing religious reasons.
Apart from Spain, some other countries that allow women to take menstrual leave are Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia. While there is no law that offers women this benefit in India, some countries have taken the liberty to allow women to avail the leave. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will hear a PIL seeking direction to all the state governments to frame rules for menstrual pain leaves to female students and working-class women at their respective workplaces.
(With inputs from AP)