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“…Menstruation Is Not a Choice, Nor a Shame”

By: Hertha Ekandjo

“We should understand that access to menstrual sanitary products is not a luxury because menstruation is not a choice.” These were the words of Khomas regional Governor Laura Mcleod-Katjirua during the Menstrual Hygiene day held at the School for the Hearing Impaired in Windhoek on Monday.

The Khomas regional office at the event handed over 18 boxes of sanitary pads to 18 schools within the Khomas region. This was done to help the girl child with menstrual hygiene.

Mcleod-Katjirua further said the provision of sanitary pads is very important.

“We need to protect our young women and girls so that they are not forced to be in relationships with older men in order to procure these products,” said Mcleod-Katjirua.

She further said that with the availability of sanitary pads, every girl child would be able to reach their full potential.

She said that Khomas residents should note that the girl child needs their support to ensure that the girl child has enough sanitary pads to change throughout their menstrual periods.

She stated that this leads to a high rate of learner pregnancy.

According to her, if no one speaks on the issues associated with menstruation hygiene openly, the girl child will remain uninformed about managing this normal function of the body.

She added that menstruation is a natural biological process which many girls and women experience and that there is nothing to be shameful about.

She further said that this process is not supposed to be seen as secretive or unclean by girls.

“On the other hand, boys and men should support them during this emotional process,” said Mcleod-Katjirua.

She said that she is aware that some Namibian girls miss school days every month during their menstrual period. This disrupts their academic performances and leads some of them to drop out.

According to her, if proper sanitation practices exist, girls can continue with their regular activities during menstruation, including attending school.

“When our young women and girls do not have access to sanitary products, they will be forced to make use of unsanitary and ineffective resources that can cause infections and discomfort,” said Mcleod-Katjirua.

She thanked everyone who responded to the girl child’s needs for their contribution of sanitary products.

At the same event, a former learner of Augustineum Secondary School, Helena Kasakamwe, said she doesn’t understand why the girl child has to go through stigma and bullying because of something they naturally experience.

“Some of us, when we are in school and accidentally get our period, and everybody sees it, we go out of school for one or two weeks just to heal,” she said.

She stated that she doesn’t know what they are trying to heal from.

She said that the girl child is scared of being bullied and discriminated against.

“We are being shamed for something we don’t decide to have that our bodies go through, something that every girl experiences. I don’t even know why boys find it funny,” said Kasakamwe.

Kasakamwe added that she doesn’t understand why menstruating is found to be funny and that no woman chooses to have it.

According to Kasakamwe, women and girls should not be ashamed of menstruation because every woman experiences it.

“Once we miss our period, we get scared, but once we get it, we are ashamed,” she said.

Hertha Ekandjo

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