Menstruation Shaming: A Death Sentence for many Girls

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Girls and women are maltreated because of their period. Some are committing suicide.

In February 2020, BBC reported about some 68 university girls in India who were abused and forced to strip to their underwear by school officials who wanted to be sure none of them were menstruating. The school unapologetically did this after discovering that some girls had “broken” the rules set for women menstruating.

Humiliations like this, known as period shaming are not new in many countries.

Still, in India, 70 school girls aged about 10 were stripped naked by a female warden who wanted to find out if any of the girls had just began their menstruation. Happened in 2017, the female warden did this after seeing blood on a bathroom door.

In addition to being stripped, some women are banned from home when menstruating. This practice has accounted for some death cases of girls and women. In Nepal, a woman and her two children suffocated and died in a ‘menstruation hut’ after the woman was banished for menstruating.

In some places, girls and women who menstruate are banished to 'menstruation hut'. Snake, cold weather and other things kill them in the process. Click To Tweet

In 2019, Thomson Reuters Foundation discovered that women were given illegal drugs by their work supervisors to reduce menstrual pain. The women sought pain relievers as they had to perform well enough even when menstruating to avoid being exploited and abused. Unknowingly, these drugs had serious health complications.

Period shaming has also caused many girls to drop out from schools. UNESCO estimates that in sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 10 girls miss school due to issues related to menstruation. It starts with missing school for a day, then a few more days and then, forever.

These humiliations are prevalent in schools, work places and even at homes, although many of them are under-reported.

Girls and women are maltreated because of their period. Some are committing suicide. Click To Tweet

A death sentence

Period shaming has severe effects on both girls and their families. While some are able to handle the trauma, others seek ‘permanent’ alternatives like suicide.

In 2017, a 12-year-old Indian girl took her life a day after being maltreated by her teacher for menstruating. In her suicide note, the girl said the teacher ‘tortured and harassed’ her, and she could not understand why.

Although, suicide is the most extreme way girls handle period shaming, it however shows the extent to the discrimination against menstruation and the trauma it causes.

More recently, in 2019, a 14-year-old Kenyan girl took her life after being embarrassed by her teacher for staining her uniform while menstruating.

Extreme discrimination against menstruation is more in rural areas where archaic cultures are strictly protected and practiced. As a result, even families of discriminated girls cannot help out as they are either in support of it or are subdued.

Period shaming has cost girls their education, their health and even their lives. We all must work to stop period shaming. Click To Tweet

Women are found wanting

Women who should actively seek justice for period shaming are, sadly, the ones behind some of these abuses. The 70 school girls who were stripped naked for a ‘menstruation check’ were ordered by a female warden, a woman.

Women themselves have made period shaming a difficult issue to address. Notwithstanding, we still can help. With mature conversations about period and protection for girls when menstruating, we can discourage period shaming.

Related: How the Media Encourages Period Shaming

How the deadly pandemic can affect your periods

40 Myths about Menstruation

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