IT’S NOT MY FAULT THAT I WAS BORN A GIRL… MENSTRUATION IS NATURAL!!!

Tumanjong Miranda
Posted December 6, 2017 from Cameroon

Many people are victims of violence at one point in their life or the other; especially the girls and women. Most girls loose self-value at puberty because they have been victims of rape and bullying from their peers (especially when stained by menses). I am no exception to these.

Growing up as a girl, I was never timid; neither did I have a complex about myself. My mother and elder sisters talked to me about puberty especially menstruation before in preparation for that stage. It all sounded simple as they spoke, but I did not know that the real deal was in facing the real-life situation.

I had my menarche (first menses) in form one. To me it was a easy to cope with it at that early stage since my mind had been prepared. It was much easier because I was in a single sex (females-only) school and whenever a girl got stained, they were not ridiculed or jeered at. As I advanced in education, I changed my school and went to a mixed school in form three. It was completely anew and different experience. My new bench mate was a boy and I started learning to interact with other people. To me, it was no big deal because I easily adapted to any system.

My predicament

I started getting the difference when I got stained by menses. On this “unfortunate” day, I had a heavy flow which got my uniform stained. When I stood up to answer a question, my bench mate noticed it didn’t tell me, but rather told another boy who joined him in laughing. I noticed fidgeting but did not know what was happening. He kept throwing mocking slangs at me and they laughed together. I did not know why until I was about going out of the class and they openly laughed. A friend of mine came up to me and told me what was happening. I ran out of class in tears to the dormitory and stayed out of class for three days because of the embarrassment. I became very timid and was unable to interact freely with others because I felt they will keep laughing at me. It became a habit for me not to go to school when I was on my menses and I will be punished for absence by the school authorities. There’s nothing as terrible as being psychologically tortured.

My new perspective

In lower sixth, I was faced with another instance where a heavy flow stained my uniform. This time around the boy who saw this rather walked up to me and told me to go and change uniform, offering me is cardigan to cover up the stain. This is when I came to realize that not all boys were mean, I didn’t feel embarrassed anymore. From that day forth, I made up my mind not to get intimidated by anyone no matter what. I embraced the fact that I was menstruating and that made me proud because it’s a sign of maturity.

I took upon myself to educate the other adolescents, both boys and girls, about puberty and the challenges, laying a lot of emphasis on menstruation. Today, I am an advocate against gender based violence. Through my walk, I have been able to educate adolescents and parents aspects of violence and its effects on people and society. I also educate adolescents on puberty especially on the myths surrounding menstruation. Through my walks, I give girls sanitary pads to make them know the importance of maintaining good hygiene during menstruation. I am proud of what I do today, because I am able to change the mindset of adolescent girls and help them know and accept themselves for who they are.

Being a girl is not a crime, menstruation is not a bad thing, being stained by menses has never been anyone’s making or fault above all menstruation is a sign of maturity for a girl child. So don’t make someone feel marginalized, neither should you be mean to them because of their sex… It’s the responsibility of EVERYONE in the society to break the silence on menstruation and end all forms of violence which come with menstruation… IF I CAN, YOU CAN

This story was submitted in response to After #MeToo: Stories of Change.

Comments 8

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Jill Langhus
Dec 06, 2017
Dec 06, 2017

Hi Tumanjong. Thanks for sharing your personal story about menstruation. I'm glad you were able to have a full spectrum of experiences there, and not just a traumatizing one that would have a negative, long-term effect. I agree that everyone could do better and make more of an effort not to shame girls/women that are menstruating. It's a natural, human process that should be honored and not shamed.

Tumanjong Miranda
Dec 11, 2017
Dec 11, 2017

thank you for the encouragement

Jill Langhus
Dec 11, 2017
Dec 11, 2017

You're welcome:)

Olutosin
Dec 06, 2017
Dec 06, 2017

I am proud of what you do dear sister. We can change mindsets through continuous awareness raising and educating rhe ignorant ones. We are gloriously created. I am proud of being a woman.

Tumanjong Miranda
Dec 11, 2017
Dec 11, 2017

thanks you!

Tamarack Verrall
Dec 10, 2017
Dec 10, 2017

Dear Miranda,

I was on the edge of my seat as I read your story. You drew me in as if I was right there with you, listening. I loved how you met such ignorance with your own determination to shift the whole experience of menstruation and the taught meanness that you and so may have had to face, into a new level of respect and kindness. It is encouraging that one boy stepped forward with grace and respect. Your ongoing work is so important, and it is clear that many young people, including both women and men are living differently because of you.

In sisterhood,

Tam

Tumanjong Miranda
Dec 11, 2017
Dec 11, 2017

Thank you Tam!

Urmila Chanam
Apr 02, 2018
Apr 02, 2018

Dear Miranda,

I have a period-story too. But in my case, I was not prepared for menarche and had no idea why my abdomen was paining or the source of fresh blood in my white sports shorts. That sent me to shock and shame for many years and periods always came with confusion, discomfort and shame. I am happy to find that your mother had educated you before hand. Its so important for women to educate younger women and girls rather than wait to be taught in school!

I work on menstrual hygiene management in India and the gender inequality existing in our homes, communities and society that has made menstruation an issue related to access to sanitary materials, facilities like toilets and clean water to wash when it should not have been! Imagine a world where men menstruated? Would there still be such taboo?

Join me in my campaign. Sending more power to you.

Love and kisses from India
Urmila Chanam
[email protected]