Teen Girls Can’t Afford Sanitary Pads – Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, S.D. ― Dominique Amiotte, 17, always makes sure to keep a few extra tampons in her locker. It’s not much, but it’s enough to encourage at least some of her struggling friends to come to school when they have their periods.

About half of Amiotte’s girlfriends can’t afford tampons or sanitary pads. As a result, when they menstruate, they’ll skip school for as long as a week. This can lead them to fall behind in class, contributing to the already abysmal graduation rates on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. There are no official records on how many of the young women at the reservation’s 13 schools have felt the consequences of this issue, but individuals we spoke to say it’s an inescapable part of everyday life.

“It makes me angry,” Amiotte told HuffPost unflinchingly while seated in an empty classroom at the Crazy Horse School, where there are 70 girls enrolled in middle or high school classes.

For many women and girls not having access to tampons and pads cuts to the heart of another issue: gender rights.

“They shouldn’t feel like they’re being punished for being a girl,” said Julia Chipps, the nurse at the Crazy Horse School.

After a young student lost her grandmother, who was her primary caretaker, she told Chipps that she was considering getting pregnant. That way, she wouldn’t have to worry about buying tampons for a while.

Some girls stock up on toilet paper at school to use as makeshift pads. It’s not uncommon to see women on the reservation walking around wearing pants stained with blood, Chipps said.

Feminine hygiene products ― items for which there’s no male equivalent – are pricey, and some argue, unfairly taxed.

A box of 36 tampons typically costs about $7. Over the course of a lifetime, women spend about $2,200 on sanitary pads and tampons.

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