The 5 difficult challenges homeless women face

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Can you imagine using a ripped cloth or towel to protect yourself from bleeding?

Doubt, struggle and shame are just some of the factors that tie together the shared experiences of the homeless commune.

For the women who are homeless, there are numerous challenges that only they know. From what it is like to be on their period with limited access to sanitary products to what it is like to go through the menstruation cycle without a restroom or shower to stay clean. All of which are services that are desperately needed by these women.

While many of us think homelessness is atypical, living on the streets is more common than you think. According to homelessness Australia, women make up 59% of people who have accessed homelessness services in 2014, which is equivalent to 85,000 people.

Here, we have 5 real challenges homeless women face on a daily basis:

1. Access to hygienic products is limited.
For homeless women, menstruation is not a choice and is a nightmare. Shelters in Australia are not often allocated significant funds to provide the homeless women with the sanitary products of tampons or pads. Homeless women are often found using a ripped up rag, public toilet tissue or a towel to protect themselves from bleeding, leading to the increased chances of an infection.

2. Access to maternal health care is very difficult.
Research has shown that the number of homeless women facing inadvertent pregnancy is higher than that of the estimated general population with far more complications that arise for both the homeless women and their children. While support services and homelessness accommodation is on offer, it is often believed that homeless women receive the care of lower standards with the lack of services to doctor’s appointments, medication and products needed to help their infants. 

3. Domestic violence is one of the biggest contributing factors to homelessness.
Domestic and family violence related homelessness is becoming a widespread issue in Australia, with 36% of the 187,000 people turning to homeless services as a result of this issue. It is notably becoming an increasing problem where 63% of women are not reporting domestic or family violence and as a result, fear becoming homeless and choose to stay in violent relationships over the idea of risking unstable housing.

4. Safety for women decreases.
Whether it is on the streets or in homeless shelters, there are far more homeless men which becomes a concern for women’s personal safety. How can they be helped? Women’s community shelters open their doors to homeless women, providing them with the support services needed to rebuild their self-worth and to reestablish their ability to take control of their lives once again.

5. Mental health problems are recorded for 1 in 10 women.
72-82% of homeless women suffer from mental illness, this includes anything from depressive disorders to the lifelong trauma of domestic or family violence. Keeping this in mind, homeless women are less likely to receive the right care and services they need to cure such illnesses. Red Cross is a compassionate organisation that leverages mental health support services towards the homeless women, incorporating a socially inclusive approach that removes the stigma of such issues.

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