Over the past years, the government has been issuing free condoms to curb the spread of HIV/Aids and unwanted pregnancies among teenagers and other young people, who, however, suffer a lot during menstruation.
Of late, prices of sanitary pads have increased at a very high rate and the quality reduced. That has made unaffordable to many.
Consider the case of single mothers, who are their families’ breadwinners. Every menstruating daughter uses two packets of the towels monthly many of them can’t afford them.
That makes the children to skip school for a week or so, resuming after their menses are over. They miss a lot in class, which takes them much time to catch up.
The lack of pads has been a source of embarrassment to girls. For example, a girl innocently stands up in the classroom, whether to answer a question or go for a call of nature, only to find out that the only pad she had is used and the menses has overflowed to her uniform.
That lowers her self-esteem. She can no longer stand in front of her classmates. If pads were given out for free, she could have changed it before it filled up.
Lack of pads has made girls to engage in transactional sex in exchange for sanitary pads. But the men do not give them out for free; they demand sexual favours in return. This is a serious matter.
That pains a lot because not even women in power and those responsible to campaigning against the issue are silent. They should be on the frontline, demanding justice for the girls. Woman Representatives should be pushing in Parliament for the government to provide free pads.
It is aptly said that “sex is a choice but menstruation is not”. Anybody can avoid engaging in sexual activities but women and girls cannot prevent menses. The government should, therefore, give out free pads, like condoms.
Bevarlyne Adhiambo, Migori
Parents and older siblings hesitate to enlighten adolescent girls about menstruation, leaving them unprepared for periods.
Menstruation is healthy and should be celebrated. Sadly, however, girls and women still face the stigma of being called unclean and unworthy and isolated during their menstruation.
We need to normalise open discussions about menstruation. Girls and women should be able to access affordable sanitary pads. Menstruation should be comfortable, safe and healthy.
By opening up dialogue about their bodies, how they feel during the periods, and the challenges they face, we can create a sense of solidarity among women and girls with periods.
Lastly, men’s involvement in the matter is crucial in the efforts to end menstruation stigma.