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Fibromyalgia International Awareness Day

Journal Entry: Mon May 12, 2014, 8:18 AM

Today is Fibromyalgia International Awareness Day. For those who don't know, I suffer with fibromyalgia, and it is a very real and debilitating illness. This post is an informational one - if there's anything you've ever wanted to know abou
t fibromyalgia, you can ask me here - no matter how personal - and I will attempt to answer you, either here or in a private message. I want to raise awareness of this condition which is so maligned by media and dismissed by the medical profession.

Head over to the Fibromyalgia Association UK where you can find out more and even donate to the charity if you want to.


Stuff n' Fluff

Journal Entry: Mon May 12, 2014, 8:16 AM

I like this journal. I have to be relatively constrained, because it's public (unlike my LiveJournal, where I write everything) and I know people who pretend they don't care about my life are reading it. :P But I can use it for things that don't seem 'important' enough to go on my blog. It's a nice half-way house, and I should use it more often.

Wee Chum was made a 'free reader'. This means he's finished with the reading scheme books, and can read whatever he chooses for reading time both at school and at home. He is chuffed to bits. Considering this is a child who I've always had to cajole into reading, and completing the ten minutes per night that the school mandates, I'm really, really pleased with this. I think it has a lot to do with allowing him an hour after bedtime to sit up (or lay on his belly!) in bed and just read whatever he wants to. He's been doing this for about a year, and his reading has come on leaps and bounds. I has a clever Chum. :D

My physical health hasn't been so good lately. I'll write about Fibromyalgia International Awareness Day in a bit, but suffice it to say I've been in a lot of pain and experiencing a lot of fatigue recently. My new antipsychotic helps me to sleep at night, which is helping the pain/fatigue a lot, but it's still screwing with my ability to lead a 'normal' life a lot. I manage to be a good parent, husband and student, and that's what matters I suppose.

Studying is going well - I'm three years into my six-year degree right now, and I only have one more assignment (the dreaded EMA) to do before I'm free until October. Looking forward to that four month break SO much. Especially because it encompasses Wee Chum's school summer holidays. Hopefully we'll get to go camping again this year, because last year was so idyllic and wonderful. Just the three of us as a family getting to know each other better. :)

I don't have anything exciting or groundbreaking to report, basically - that's yer lot. Hope everyone's doing well? Let me know what you've been up to!

So I changed my username

Journal Entry: Fri May 2, 2014, 6:56 AM
In case you're confused, I was ghostlove before.

So yeah, there's that.

I'm nearly at the end of my Open University module for the year, just one assignment due in a couple of days and then my EMA due on 2nd June and then I'm free until October when my next module (Children's Literature) begins. I'm doing okay, I can still get a first if I get a distinction in one of my next three modules, which should be fairly straightforward, though not easy.

I'm not writing as much as I'd like to be. What I do write is technically and contextually bollocks. For an English Language and Literature student I'm not very good at writing the way I wish I could. But that's by the by; only with practice can I improve, and there are lots of wonderful, wonderful writers around, even here on deviantART, who inspire me to try more, work harder, get better.

I have two gay vicars coming to visit my family tonight. That should be interesting.

Also, we seem to have gained another cat.

deviantART Birthday

Journal Entry: Sat Jul 20, 2013, 12:07 PM

Today marks exactly NINE YEARS since I first joined deviantART. I've been a user on and off since then, usually corresponding with my mental health issues; when I'm very mentally unwell I tend to write more, strangely, and then when I get well again I pootle off and get on with real life. 

This time, though, I'm back for good and really trying to integrate myself, trying to become a useful member of the deviantART community. I truly love this website, I love everything about it really, especially what its members have done for me and my writing over the years. I hope to become one of those members who is truly valued!

Can you believe that on 20th July 2004, when I first signed up for deviantART, Wee Chum didn't even exist yet? Can you believe I was still living with my parents, in a house that isn't even their home any more? 

Between then and now, I've left my parents' home for my own place (nearly eight years I've lived here now!) had two failed relationships, had Wee Chum, worked and lost several different jobs (some paid and some voluntary), had two mental illnesses diagnosed, become physically disabled and learned to embrace my limitations, come out as transgender and met and married Jesse (my spouse)! Phew! And all this time I've been writing about it all - sometimes here in the form of poetry, sometimes on my LiveJournal (yes, some of us still use LJ!).

I'm so grateful to deviantART for being here for me for the past nine years, and hopefully it'll still be around in another nine. Wee Chum will be nearly seventeen by then, and I will be approaching forty. And hopefully I'll still be writing, and who knows - maybe he'll be a member here by then, too.

Take care everyone, and thanks for reading.


QUEER and why it's an important word

Journal Entry: Fri Jul 19, 2013, 3:23 AM

I wrote a new blog post over at Shut Up, Sit Down on the word "queer" and why it is an important word to me and the queer community. I hope you enjoy it.


Literature Showcase

Journal Entry: Wed Jul 17, 2013, 3:08 PM

Here are some of my recent literature favourites. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

NinevehA grey whale fed me
From his stomach.
'Fuck off,'
He said to God
'And die.'
Sinking into his own world,
He became so many
inches of life that you would never know
he died.
In another story
he would have made it to the beach:
the hagfish would have never found him
and I would live in his eyes,
building rock pools
around noon and midnight.
I could have saved the city.

Marie AntoinetteMarie Antoinette
They gave me shoes, velvet heels that spun like windmills,
dribbles of satin, laces gossamer as imagined spider threads.
They designed me shoes to be orchids, bees drowsed around my feet. I give them names.
But they took my language, words shaped in my own tongue,
familiar as milk and bed.
The language they gave me, I never exactly knew what the words meant.
I pouted, smiled, fluttered my eyelashes until they were hummingbirds.
They murmured of people starving, bakeries hollow of flour,
echoes of the rights of the man. But they said not to worry. Silly things.
So we dressed as shepherdess, lambs washed until they were pillows.
Our crooks hooked the sun. They gave me extravagant pastries,
almond, cherry palaces in my mouth. I could not shape the names.
Then they showed me the cards that were circulating of me, the crowds howled when they saw them.
My face was a false moon on some other body.
This body was on all fours, someone thrusting inside into it.
I heard other wor
Aphrodite's DissertationThe sound of catamarans upon the foam,
the march of cavalry and weary knights
who lay their bodies down are coming home
to linens drying like a hundred kites;
if not for love, what force are sword and chain
that they may honor empires with their call,
if not for me, they all have died in vain
and made of Troy the laughingstock for all.
Indeed, your chamois shirts and littered socks,
the tender cartilage of tambourines,
unfinished wine, and little jew'llery box,
and dual hemispheres of nectarines—
belong to me alone in my design:
the air you breathe, your everything, is mine.

AdvertisementsShe was only six when the funeral homes started sending us advertisements, all competing with each other to be the best, to win her business. To win our business, more like; six is hardly old enough to understand what's going on. It's not old enough to understand why everyone is covering their mouths with their hands and failing to hold back tears when you walk into the room, or old enough to understand why people begin to outright sob when you start talking about what you want to be when you grow up. Once it was a doctor, before that it was a fairy princess, but right now it's a policewoman.
And of course all the children have heard about the funeral homes. Cold, nasty, make their business in knowing when people are going to die. Not how, as far as anyone can tell, just...when. A lot of kids have had relatives—great-aunts, great-uncles, maybe great-grandparents—start getting advertisements, maybe been shown them to know what to look out for, but not Anita. She
thyroidal cartilagei held a bird between my hands,
swallow's throat twitching in laryngeal spasms.
when i whispered gently,
lips millimeters from its ear,
'you are mine; there is nothing you can do'
it struggled, beak clicking like talon-fingernails on porcelain
i didn't mean to let it free, i swear.
it beat me back with a single shining look;
beaded gaze bruising, breaking capillaries and
bringing blood to the surface.
i would have gotten a black eye if i wasn't careful.
i wasn't.
careful, i mean. i was never careful.
with mirrored eyes i watched it fly,
wings beating in time to my heart.
my breath was a cloud of smoke,
droplets condensing in the air and
mingling with fog and foreign substances
and atmospheric debris from the
most recent vehicular excursions
it was a white day, with a white sky and
a lake of milk. i drank all of it,
particles of protein splashing onto my sunglasses.
and then i was alone:
no bird and no lake,
just an empty heart
and a stomach full of regrets and butterflies
i still

dysphoriaI pluck out my hair
pulling down my conscious
to the sores of dysphoria.
(this isn't what I'm meant to be)
growths sprout like blisters
on my chest;
they keep swelling
and it's cramped --
my torso isn't formed right
so I let my ribs wear an
organ-coating, binding me.
(I can hardly breathe,
but I'd love to taste the air)
my body is one itch I can't
scratch out and I can't
watch it peel away but
I still hope for that day.
(please let me tear off the
skin that feels so tight)
Bullet    When I was a kid, I wanted to be Superman.
    They said he was faster than a speeding bullet. Not just any old bullet, moseying home after a long day at the office. A speeding one, tearing up the atmosphere like nothing in the world could stop it. I wanted to punch through the sound barrier and carry on and on, away from everything.
    I started running a year after my mom died. I was nine years old, but already fast enough to beat my army dad to the corner of the street. There was a local cop with a big brewster moustache who was always dragging me back home. I forget his name. His sedan could run faster than my legs, and his hand was quick enough to grab my collar. When he was still fetching me back two years later, he stopped by to have a word with my dad.
    "He's pretty quick on those legs of his," he said. "You thought about getting him to do sports? Might burn up some energy

We Poets Are Frustrated...We Poets Are Frustrated...
I am sure that you have all experienced this feeling:
A masterpiece eclipsed by the baying of a brat!
A raucous rhyme, so emotionally raw;
Shadowed by a child's melancholia...
Alone in the darkness, you lick your lips and growl.
Your anger, so evidently understandable; yet you forget your own abilities!
In despair, my dearest sibling, you have forgotten — yourself
Why fear an obstacle so easily overcome?
Why shred your works with such heavy tears?
Have you forgotten that we are the original craftsman?
Our tongues birthed as our chisels and axe!
We need only take these simple themes
And corrupt them with all our twisted fears...
This hatred inside of you, this bubble of frustration and anxiety —
Let it swell like a pus-filled abscess of anger!
And with your words unleash this vicarious plague!
Take the unblemished works that have scorned you,
And inject them with the very darkness of your soul!
Let bleeding lips,
One ChanceElliot is four. He watches his grandfather breathe out cigarette smoke in his creaking armchair. The living room is small enough to be heated by the portable radiator near his grandfather's slippers. When the old man realises his grandson waits for him, he begins.
"This is a ruined world, son. Diseased with hatred and war before you were born." He takes a drag on his cigarette and Elliot breathes in the coming smoke. "This world is dead, but I know there's another. We could go to it if we only knew the way." Elliot's grandfather smiles at his thoughts. "There's another place put aside for us. I'll find the door one day."
The radiator splutters to its death and the old man curses his misfortune.
Elliot is ten. His hair is in a ponytail because that's how his brother wears it and his big brother's the best. Nick Ward and his friends from the year above don't think so.
They grab Elliot as soon as he leaves the cubicle in the little boy's room and pushes him face first into a wall, holding

Space CampHe found himself standing in their daughter's room, staring at the dusty mobile of the planets, unsure of how he's come to be there. He looked at her bed, her desk, the unfinished homework. He considered opening the window, but the thought slipped away before he could act on it.
He wandered into the living room, looked out the window. The grass needed cutting. Did it? He wasn't sure. His wife would know, but she'd already left for work. Seems she left earlier every morning and came home later each night. Another thought occurred to him, something about each in their own way, but he couldn't hold it. Perhaps she was having an affair. He wondered at how he might feel about it if she was, decided he wouldn't feel anything.
He went into the kitchen, looked at the table, littered with unopened mail. He took a bottle from the cabinet and sat down at the table. Was he starting later than yesterday or earlier? He wasn't sure it mattered. He opened the bottle, but found he'd forgotten to get a
Up and Aparti.
I was four and you were two. My Ma says she remembers me saying how it was such a bother when we had a playdate because you'd take my animal crackers and mash them between your fingers and your mouth but you'd never eat any of them.
ii.
I was seven and you were five, and my Ma told me to find a rose to give to you so she could take a picture with her new camera. I couldn't find any, so I went to Old Alfred's field and picked a wildflower instead. But it had a bee, and you had allergies, and you stuffed the petals in my mouth after your Pa fixed you up with the Epipen.
iii.
I was twelve and you were ten. You went to a Catholic girls' school and you said if I kissed you on the mouth, you wouldn't tell my Pa about the magazines and the cigarettes you helped me steal; but you didn't tell me you would kiss back.
iv.
I was fifteen and you were thirteen, and even though we were tired from racing home on our bikes, you let me sneak you out into Old

ill-fitting hearts."Do you know why she's dying?"
"Do you?"
"Because I broke her heart. God, I feel so fucking bad about that."
"No she's stronger than most I know. She's dying because you told her to."
"What? No, that doesn't even make sense."
"Think about it. She would do anything, for you."
-
You were nineteen and fell for the girl with the ballet toes and unreliable heart. You were a robot, programed to say her name every time you were asked a question. And when you urged your feelings to a breaking point, you found her standing outside your door with an i-love-you note and a field of asymmetrical freckles. That was all you needed to get down on one knee.
-
"Remember on your birthday, how she blew out the candles for you?"
"Yeah, because she was everything I wanted. God was good to me last year, giving me my wish before I even saw the candles."
-
She had the kind of eye lashes that curl up naturally like spider limbs when they die but she would wear sleep like eyeliner to make her look sick and damag
A cappellaMy mother, a famous classical violinist in her day, was on her deathbed and I didn't care.  She was bedridden by the usual suspects, old age and a fall, and had been for many months when they called me.  "Come see her," they said.  "She'll pass on soon."  They told me the nurses played Tchaikovsky, her favorite.
"No," I said, and hung up the phone, slamming it against the wall, the cord jerking about in a wild dance.  I glared at my CD player, as though it would suddenly come to life with violin concertos, then grabbed my coat, and left the house.  
The critics never tired of saying she was passionate, that's what always got me.  I remember going to her concerts; it was true, she had the most intense face, and her rigid body echoed the tension and frenzy of the music she loved to play.  When she practiced, nothing could shake her from scales climbing, climbing, climbing.  As a child, I always imag



Writing again - recommend me a writer?

Journal Entry: Mon Jul 15, 2013, 5:56 AM

You may have noticed I'm writing again. I am also making an effort to take part in the community here again by commenting on art/writing that moves me.

You may also have noticed I've gone on an ADD ALL THE WRITERS spree. I want to read good writing. I want to be inspired. If I've added you to my watch list, it's because you produce good writing and I find you inspiring.

I'd really appreciate it if you'd drop in the comments here a link to your favourite deviantART writer, or however many you want, really. I'll make a feature journal of my favourite writers soon, too.

Cheers all! Hope to see your art very soon. :)


Bloggin' Times

Journal Entry: Sun Sep 23, 2012, 3:12 PM


Most of you know I write a feminist/leftie/activist blog at Shut Up, Sit Down that was inactive for quite some time. Well in the last couple of months I've written a few posts (a couple of which I'm proud to say were first published at The F Word) which you may or may not be interested in:


I'm also hoping to get Mothers For Women's Lib going again soon. If you're a parent and a progressive and would like to write for MFWL (as a one-off or part- or full-time) please let me know.

I'm looking for ideas for both blogs. What would YOU like to see blog posts/articles about?

Privatisation... in a good way.

Journal Entry: Wed Jul 11, 2012, 12:18 PM
So I'm trying to make this account a little bit more private, especially for Wee Chummington now he's approaching the sort of age where he wants to use the internet. So I've gone through the account, deleted a bunch of journals and most of the photos of him. I'm also (you may have noticed) using the moniker Wee Chummington (a nickname given to him by Mr Ghostlove) for him instead of his real name. I'd appreciate it if you'd all do the same. I can't eradicate every instance of his name but I can try. If you spot his name on one of my deviations, would you pretty please note me so I can change it? Cheers!

The goings-on in Ghostlove Mansions.

Journal Entry: Fri Jul 6, 2012, 5:08 PM
Hi all my readers, the few that are left!

I've just deleted a whole bunch of inactive people from my watch list, and I'm looking for new people to watch.

SO if you're watching me and you'd like me to watch you as well - and you're active on the site! - then leave me a comment here.

And recommend me your favourite deviants. Bonus points if they're excellent writers and/or photographers. :D

Just in case you mad mad people want to know what's going on in my life:

Wee Chummington is nearly seven, mad as a box of frogs, seriously hilarious and doing just as brilliantly both in school and out as I hope and expect.

Mr Ghostlove and I are deliriously happy and we're getting married in sixteen days (!).

We lost a rattie a couple of weeks ago, so we're down to seven, four in the Explorer and three in the hospital cage. Cheri, our epileptic rattie, is thriving now she's on regular phenobarbital and has less than one fit a fortnight.

Both the cats are massively, massively more happy since we installed cat flaps in the back doors, gave them collars and let them explore the great outdoors. No more piddle on my dining room carpet.

My fibro pain/fatigue is up and down like a yo-yo. My mental illnesses are being well managed with medication and skills I learned in therapy. My eating disorder recovery has taken a step backwards but I'm working on it.

My Open University degree course is finished for the year, I don't have my grade yet. I start again at the end of September.

I'm still working as a volunteer in a local Age UK charity shop, and enjoying it greatly.

My car is nearly dead and I'm very sad about it. However, my nearly-sister-in-law is going to sell me her Zafira (seven seater, proper Mum Car) fairly cheaply as she needs a smaller car. Woop. :)

I think that's it. It's gone one in the morning. I need sleep, Wee Chummington's dad is picking him up in less than eight hours. :P

That 'controversial' meme that's going around...

Journal Entry: Tue Jan 26, 2010, 7:51 AM




The Latest


Via sine-out, MetalMagpie and Alomie among others.



1. Do you have the guts to answer these questions and re-post as The Controversial Survey?


Well I'm doing it, so obviously.



2. Would you do meth if it was legalized?


I do not know nor have I heard of a single person doing meth here in the UK. From what I understand it's a very USian thing. A few years ago I would have said yes, I'll try anything once. These days, what with my mental illnesses (and the psychiatric medications I take to manage them) I don't touch drugs; I don't even drink alcohol.



3. Abortion: for or against it?


Vociferously, militantly for. I believe abortion should be free, safe, legal and accessible to every woman in the world, no matter why she wants to have one, how far along in the pregnancy she is or how many (if any) she's had previously. I do not believe there should be any limits on abortion. We don't legally limit any other medical procedure, why should this one be any different?



4. Do you think the world would fail with a female president?


President of what? This strikes me as a very US-centric question, not just because it mentions a "president" but because it implies that the whole world would be affected by the person chosen as the president (presumably of the USA). Do I think the US would fail with a female president? Well Thatcher didn't destroy the United Kingdom, did she? I may be totally anti-Thatcher but she's living proof that a female leader does not a failure make.



5. Do you wish marijuana would be legalized already?


If it were not for the aforementioned mental illnesses and psychiatric drugs, I would be using cannabis as a pain relief and sleep aid - I have ME, and sometimes prescription strength painkillers don't cut the mustard, and I'm not allowed sleeping tablets for various reasons. I may not touch drugs myself, but I am a firm believer that cannabis should be made legal and properly monitored. I also firmly believe that it is vastly less dangerous than alcohol; if I got my way, alcohol and cannabis would switch places, legality-wise.



6. Are you for or against premarital sex?


I have a four-and-a-half year old child and I've never been married. You work it out.



7. Do you believe in God?


No. I believe in gods. And goddesses. Which are all part of one all-encompassing Deity. I'm a scientific Pagan though, I can't be doing with woo.



8. Do you think it's wrong that so many Hispanics are illegally moving to the USA?


Oh yes, this is definitely a very US-centric questionnaire, isn't it? I don't give a shit about the US's immigration "problems" so I'm going to switch this for "Polish/Turkish/Indian/Pakistani people" and "the UK". And no, I don't think it's wrong. Every person I've spoken to who's been anti-immigration has been a slavering racist fucknugget. Even those who manage to hide their fucknuggetry have still been racist, they're just a lot more covert about it. What it basically boils down to is "BROWN people? In MY country? Stealing OUR jobs (that thousands of white Brits haven't gone for because they're not willing to put in the work)? Not on MY watch!"



9. A twelve year old girl has a baby, should she keep it?


It's really none of my business or anyone else's whether she 'keeps it' or not. She should be aware of all her options, and be allowed to make the decision that she feels is best for her, and then she should be left the hell alone by the goddamned vulture media who do so love a "twelve year old slut" story. She should be given all the support and aid that she needs in whatever she chooses to do, but she should be allowed to make the decision privately, by herself.



10. Should the alcohol age be lowered to eighteen?


Again with the US-centricity! It already is eighteen here in the UK. I'm not especially bothered by the alcohol age limit; if you were paying attention earlier or know me very well, you'll know I'd like to see it be reclassified to a class C or B drug, or at the very least monitored much more closely.



11. Should the war in Iraq be called off?


There is no war in Iraq. War was officially never declared, so what we have is not a war but an invasion. So yes, the invasion should be called off.



12. Assisted suicide is illegal: do you agree?


Totally disagree. I am a staunch supporter of voluntary human euthanasia. If you want more information on this, you could try Compassion and Choices or Exit International.



13. Do you believe in spanking your children?


No, never. There is never a situation in which it is acceptable to physically (or mentally for that matter) harm a child. I wouldn't hit an adult because they had displeased me or wouldn't do what I want them to, why would I hit a defenceless child? Violence begets violence, and the last thing we want to be teaching children is that we hit others when we don't get our own way or like what they are doing. As a parent, I am the one person in my child's life who he should be able to rely on to be here to protect him from harm. How can I reinforce his feeling of security in me if I'm the one doing him harm?



14. Would you burn an American flag for a million dollars?


I'd burn it for free. The US flag means nothing to me.



15. Are you afraid others will judge you from reading some of your answers?


I'm counting on it!






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"Transgender Day of Remembrance is an occasion in the LGBT community set aside to memorialise those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice (transphobia). The event is held on 20 November. It was founded by Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honour Rita Hester, whose murder in 1998 kicked off the "Remembering Our Dead" web project and a San Francisco, California candlelight vigil in 1999. Since then, the event has grown to encompass memorials in hundreds of cities around the world." (Wikipedia)

More information on the Transgender Day of Remembrance from the GSA Network

Every year more names are added to the list, human beings killed because they were either transgendered or perceived to be transgendered. Every year more people find themselves injured or killed as a result of hate crimes based on nothing but their gender identity. Every year we think we are taking a step forward, becoming more progressive, yet people are still victims of prejudice and still leading difficult lives and still losing their lives, simply for daring to be themselves.

Please take a moment today to remember and honour those who have been killed in senseless hate crimes based on their transgender identity. With more awareness, one day we might really take a step forward.
Information on how you can help the Dignity. Period! campaign, coordinated by ACTSA, is provided at the end of this post.

One of our bloggers wrote a little while ago about the Zimbabwean government’s crass approach towards the crisis that Zimbabwean women are facing in terms of shortages of sanitary products in the country. This isn’t simply a story about shortages of yet another type of product. Shortages of sanitary ware go to the heart of women’s rights: it’s an issue which raises questions of whether a woman is forced to stay away from work or school; whether she is putting her health at risk by picking up infections or, if she is HIV positive, whether those infections will literally shorten her life span. In short, a lack of affordable hygienic sanitary products translates directly into issues of women’s rights as well as women’s dignity. The story has been picked up by The Sunday Times (UK) again today. The article is cited in full below:
Celebrities back tampon rebels of Zimbabwe

She has been arrested 22 times, tortured so badly that her front teeth were knocked into her nose and had an AK-47 thrust up her vagina until she bled. Thabitha Khumalo’s crime: to campaign against a critical shortage of tampons and sanitary towels in Zimbabwe, one of the least talked about and most severe side-effects for women of the country’s economic crisis.

Now her cause has been taken up in Britain by celebrities including the actors Anna Chancellor, Gillian Anderson, Prunella Scales and Jeremy Irons.

Later this month they will launch “Dignity. Period!”, a fundraising campaign to buy sanitary products for Zimbabwe’s women. It will start with a night of entertainment at the 20th Century theatre in Notting Hill, west London, hosted by Stephen Fry.

So desperate is the situation that women are being forced to use rolled-up pieces of newspaper. Zimbabwe already has the world’s lowest life expectancy for women - 34 - and Khumalo believes these unhygienic practices could make it drop to as low as 20 because infections will make them more vulnerable to HIV. “It’s a time bomb,” she said. The shortage is forcing schoolgirls to stay at home when they start menstruating.

The crisis began in 1999 when Johnson & Johnson, the healthcare manufacturer, pulled out of the country because of the worsening economic situation. Zimbabwe then had to import products from neighbouring South Africa. But the collapse of the currency and the world’s highest inflation, now more than 1,000%, have made the products unaffordable to all but the elite.

In a country where the minimum wage is Z$6m (£17.14) a month, the cost of a box of 20 tampons is Z$3m. “Who in their right mind is going to spend half their earnings on tampons?” asked Khumalo. “As it is most people can only afford to eat once a day. Women are being forced to choose between their own health and the survival of their family.”

Khumalo, 45, general secretary of the Women’s Advisory Council of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, and a mother of two, started her campaign after she saw a woman walking awkwardly on the street: “She told me she was going home from work because she had her period and could no longer afford sanitary protection or cotton wool.”

When an MP raised the issue in parliament, government ministers fell about laughing and dismissed the matter. Khumalo has tried to highlight it through public meetings and distributing scarves printed with demands for affordable sanitary wear. As a result she has been repeatedly arrested and beaten, but refuses to be deterred.

ACTSA have been pushing further with the Dignity! Period. Campaign and have secured the support of Bodyform, manufacturers of sanitary protection in the UK. Bodyform are committed to supporting the work of ACTSA’s Dignity! Period. campaign and will donate funds to produce ¼ million packs of sanitary towels for Zimbabwean women, as well as continuing to raise awareness of the campaign. Please visit the Bodyform website and use the ‘Tell a Friend’ feature to spread word of the campaign.

For a mere £2.50 you can also buy yourselves a Dignity! Period. wristband. What’s truly amazing about this is that your money will provide one woman with essential sanitary protection for three months.

The following is a list of information and suggestions on how people around the world can help. If you have more ideas for what people can do to help the campaign then please send us your ideas and we’ll add them to the list:
  • Information on the campaign on the ACTSA website
  • Make a secure online donation to the campaign here. Or you can also send cheques payable to ACTSA (with sanitary appeal written on the back). Details on the website.
  • Make a donation to ACTSA via the JustGiving website in the UK here
  • People in the UK can ask their MP to sign the parliamentary Early Day Motion (EDM) supporting the campaign.
  • Everyone else, please contact your local MP and encourage them to actively support the campaign.
  • Download and distribute the ACTSA Dignity.Period! leaflet. Print out multiple copies and leave them in places where people can pick them up - in the cubicles of women’s public toilets are one suggestion.
  • If you are a blogger or have a website, please feel free to use the button Sokwanele has created on your website or blog as well. Using our code will add an image like the one we have in our sidebar, and a link back to this post where we hope to build on the list of ideas here. Details on how to do so below.
  • Think about how people around the world can help and send us your ideas. We’ll continue to build this list of suggestions.

Help spread the word and thank you all for your support!

Links to recommended reading and updates on the campaign

Click here for a video of a Zimbabwean woman talking frankly about the problem.

From This Is Zimbabwe.