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Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's office is bracing for tampons and sanitary pads to flood in through the post, as online campaigners conduct a novel protest against reported restrictions on sanitary products for asylum seeker women in detention.
Online feminist group Destroy the Joint has called for its supporters to send unused tampons and pads to Mr Morrison's office, to ''say no to the bloody humiliation of refugee women''.
The campaign was sparked by RISE (Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees), which claimed in an online post that in some detention centres asylum seeker women had been forced to go to SERCO officers to ask for tampons and pads when they were menstruating, and were given just one or two at a time.
It cited a September article by refugee advocate Victoria Martin-Iverson in Green Left Weekly, who reported from a visit to Wickham Point detention centre that, ''sanitary pads are doled out one at a time, so women need to repeat the humiliating ritual of requesting a fresh one each time they needed to replace a soiled one''.
It also cited a report from Chilout, a group calling for an end to the detention of children, which said women were given six sanitary napkins at a time, and were forced to queue up to ask for more when they were needed.
But the claims have been flatly rejected by Mr Morrison's office, and doused by Chilout spokeswoman Sophie Peer.
Ms Peer said her organisation had several years ago investigated claims that women had been forced to ask for sanitary products one at a time, but ''we don't have recent evidence that this is happening, that people have to ask for them one by one''.
Instead, she said, women were now given packets of sanitary products at a time. Despite the improvements, she said forcing women to ask male guards for pads and tampons could be humiliating and said it was a system that could easily be improved.
Destroy the Joint republished RISE's December 30 post on Saturday, and asked its supporters on Facebook whether they would support a campaign to send tampons to Mr Morrison's office. By Sunday, #stopthetampons was trending on Twitter across the country, with dozens of women announcing they had sent packages to Mr Morrison's offices.
But a spokeswoman in Mr Morrison's Parliament House office said the information was ''not in the slightest'' true.
''We don't know where this has come from, but it's nonsense,'' the spokeswoman said.
''The policy hasn't changed since the previous government. It's just completely false and misleading'', the spokeswoman said.
She said women were provided with sanitary products on their arrival in detention, and after that were given sanitary products from the welfare office, ''on request, on demand, no limit''. She could not say how many items women were given on arrival.
By Tuesday morning Mr Morrison's office had received ''about half a dozen'' packages containing sanitary products.
''We haven't had a lot of calls to the office requesting any clarification, so clearly people are accepting these baseless and false claims on face value, which is interesting of itself, so if people wanted to seek more clarification and call the office we would certainly do that.''
Late on Tuesday, the Department of Immigration issued a statement saying women were able to request sanitary products "discreetly, without question or restriction", free of charge.
"The Department of Immigration and Border Protection rejects as baseless the false and misleading claims being circulated by some advocacy groups and individuals asserting that women in detention facilities are subject to humiliating and demeaning processes to obtain women’s sanitary products."
Despite this, Destroy the Joint co-ordinator Jenna Price was resolute, maintaining the campaign was broader than the issue of sanitary products.
"The issue is that there is a continued attack on the health care of women in our detention centres. Tampons are a symbol of a lack of health care ... it's symbolic of the terrible health care that our asylum seekers and refugees get across the board."
The campaign is supported by online site Mama Mia, which on Monday issued a call to arms, urging members to send one sanitary item a month to Mr Morrison's Parliament House office.
''Our demand is simple – stop the ritual humiliation of women,'' it said. ''The first thing Morrison can do is ensure all those who need sanitary products get them in good supply, whenever they need it without having to ask a guard. Period.''
Destroy the Joint stressed to its members they should send unused products to the office. It also called for donations, pledging to ''make sure every cent goes to stopping the flow of dehumanisation. We will make sure he soaks it up every month with the reminders from Destroyers.''
No one was immediately available from RISE to offer more information about the source of the reports, but Kon Karapanagiotidis of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said his organisation had had reports of this nature for some time.
The story Women's sanitary products sent to Scott Morrison's office in protest first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.