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Spain & The ‘Special’ Law

Spain became the first country in Europe to pass a Law related to Paid Menstrual Leave for women on February 16, 2023. In a rare first, such a law has been passed in a Western country. Earlier, Governments of Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and some other countries sanctioned paid menstrual leave, keeping in mind the problems of the women workforce. Several organisations in the US, too, have started providing their women employees with paid menstrual leave.

Women rarely discuss their (personal) problems openly in a patriarchal society. In recent times, a change has been observed in their mentality of keeping silent about menstruation. Breaking the age-old tradition, various organisations across the globe are allocating three-five days of paid menstrual leave per month. Doing all the tasks, in spite of enduring the unbearable suffering for four-five days every month, is indeed painful. Most of the women feel uncomfortable asking for leave by sharing information about their physical condition with the management. Therefore, the Spanish Parliament passed this Law, after considering the disadvantages of women employees at their workplaces.

The newly-passed Law shall allow the Spanish women to take as many days leave as they want for menstrual pain. These leaves shall not be deducted from their sick leaves. However, women shall have to submit a written note from the doctors in order to avail these leaves. As per the new Law, period products shall now be offered free in schools and prisons, while State-run health centres shall do the same with hormonal contraceptives.

Apart from passing the Law related to paid menstrual leave, the Parliament of Spain also passed a series of reforms, allowing even minors (aged 14 and 15) to apply for gender change with the approval of their parents or legal guardians. A separate Law has also been passed, imposing a ban on “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ people and sanctioning State support for lesbians and single women seeking IVF treatment.

The Spanish Parliament has further changed the existing abortion system by enshrining in Law the Right to have Abortion in State-run hospitals. Doctors at State-run hospitals shall not be forced to carry out abortions, provided they have already registered their objections in writing.

Irene María Montero Gil, a Psychologist and the Minister of Equality of Spain, said that the women would no longer have to work with severe pain, and there would be no need to take medicines before coming to work. Also, the women would not have to inform the management that their work suffers from menstrual pain. She told the media: “Today, we have taken a giant step forward” by recognising the “free determination of gender identity“. Montero, who was the driving force behind the Law, stressed: “This Law also recognises the Right of Trans people to self-determine their gender identity, it depathologises trans people. Trans people are not sick people, they are just people.” The minister described the Law as among “the most important laws of this Legislature“.

Meanwhile, the Law has created a division within the ruling coalition, with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez‘s Socialist Party voicing reservations. However, Montero’s Podemos (or United We Can) Party, the Left-wing populist junior partner of the coalition, has championed the legislation.

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