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How Girls In Busoga Are Turning to Soil-Made Sanitary Pads

How Girls In Busoga Are Turning to Soil-Made Sanitary Pads

A section of girls in Busoga sub-region is molding sanitary pads using soil as menstrual hygiene, which is often discussed in hush tones, takes a toll on them.Halima Nansubuga (not real names), a Senior Two student at Romaza College in Jinja City, says she resorted to using soil and rugs because her mother could not afford sanitary pads.“I use soil and rugs but I am most comfortable when I just don’t go to school because they have some weight and are uncomfortable compared to standard sanitary pads,” she said on Tuesday.She added: “I pile soil in a polythene bag, fold it, and pierce four holes that absorb the blood; thereafter, I insert a small towel and wear it with two to three knickers because one (pair of knickers) can’t hold it.”

Despite the discomfort, Nansubuga says, “it is better than nothing”.“That is how I have been living during my periods, though sometimes I find it challenging, especially when I have gone to school. It takes a lot of time to change (the pad) because of the process,” she further explained. Her mother says she is aware of the challenges her daughter is enduring, but there is nothing she can do because she is the family’s sole breadwinner. Slum dwellers cry to Museveni over sanitary pads pledgeAddress menstrual hygiene challenges for vulnerable girls“I support her sometimes because we can’t afford sanitary pads every month. I, too, use rags,” the widow said.Sandra Nankinga (not real names), a Primary Six pupil at Buyala Primary School in Jinja City, says when she experienced her periods for the first time two months ago, she had nobody to confide in.“When I experienced my first menstrual cycle in December last year, I was aware of what it was and simply went inside the house, cut a piece of the mattress, and used it as a pad.

I am okay with it and it is “comfortable” because I have a small flow,” she said.Dr Claire Tulilaba, a clinical officer at Budondo Health Centre IV, however, discourages girls from inserting soil, rags and sponges in their private parts.“They (private parts) are sensitive and at any time, the girls may have issues of abdominal pain,” she said.According to Dr Tulilaba, several organisations have tried to fight menstruation challenges in schools, including one which she says brought “perfumed pads”, but they became challenging to most girls and eventually forced some to drop out of school.“Whenever girls came to school with perfumed pads, it was easy for boys to notice that they were in their menstrual cycle period and often disturbed them a lot; so, some decided to stay home,” Dr Tulilaba added.
Ms Rose Kagere, the executive director of Women Rights Initiative (WORI), says they discovered that girls between the ages of nine and 18 years face huge challenges when they start menstruating. “This is especially because parents and guardians can’t afford to avail them with pads every month because of the escalating poverty levels,” Ms Kagere said.She added: “Additionally, a lot of stigma is associated with menstruation, where girls are bullied, and most importantly, most schools barely have supportive facilities such as running water, incinerators, and bathrooms specific to girls that allow them to ease and change pads during school.

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