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.
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