Taking menstrual leave still a pain in China
PAID menstrual leave is on offer to female employees in many places in China. But takers are scarce, either because few know about it or going on such a break may cost a person her job.
The issue has become a hot topic again after north-western Ningxia region declared that its female employees could soon take up to two days of menstrual leave every month if they experience unbearable pains.
The announcement has again sparked a debate on whether such local efforts are sufficient in helping women handle their monthly agony.
The main snag is that the majority of the women shy away from menstrual leave, fearing repercussions on their careers.
"The Ningxia move is nothing new as more than 10 provinces and cities are already offering menstrual or dysmenorrhea leave," commenter Yuan Ying remarked in the People's Daily's website.
"But this sort of leave is only of ornamental value," she lamented, pointing out that it is not even clear what constitutes dysmenorrhea.
"Moreover, if an employee frequently takes leave citing dysmenorrhea, could her company not become sceptical and unsympathetic?"
Ms Yuan suggests that a blanket law be introduced granting all female employees in China up to two days of menstrual leave every month, without requiring any diagnosis, like in many other countries.
Japan is the first country to provide menstrual leave when it enacted a law in 1947, and many countries have since followed suit.
In South Korea, female employees are even ensured compensation pay if the leave is not consumed.
But in Chinese provinces and cities where it is offered, few are aware that it is on the books.
In Jiangsu province, where menstrual leave has been available for 27 years, most have not heard of it, let alone use it.
A survey by Jiangsu's Jinling Evening News with 20 women last week found that 19 of them would never consider taking menstrual leave.
Reasons they gave included reluctance to publicise their private condition and fear that their bosses would be annoyed.
"I'll rather take ordinary leave and suffer pay deduction," a woman told the newspaper.