*Content Warning: Discussion of Suicide
This month in the menstrual equity corner, we are highlighting a somber story, representing the horrors that menstrual shaming and inequities can create. On September 6th, a high school student in Kenya committed suicide after a teacher shamed her for bleeding through her school uniform while menstruating. This fourteen-year-old girl had started her period for the first time in the middle of the school day in Bomet County, located northwest of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The young girl’s mother reports the teacher publicly shaming the girl, and calling the staining of her clothes “incredibly dirty,” forcing her to exit the classroom and postpone her learning for the week. The young girl ended up taking her own life due to the repeated comments and humiliation she was forced to face while menstruating.
Period shaming is common in most cultures. These forms of shame can range from the extremes this student faced to even calling a period “gross.” A form of shaming not commonly spoken about are the euphemisms for menstruation. A euphemism is a word used to describe another word that is considered too dirty to say. Menstrual euphemisms reinforce the idea that periods are disgusting to the point that it should not be the topic of conversation. It is up to us to demand fair-minded treatment of menstruating people, so such tragedies will never occur again.
If you are interested in taking a stand for menstrual equity, join the Gender Equity Association (firstname.lastname@example.org).
By Maggie Di Sanza & Amira Pierotti