When Michelle Tatu got her first period, she was afraid she was dying. Terrified, she stuffed bits of cloth and cotton inside herself to try and stem the bleeding.
Too frightened to tell her parents what was happening, she kept quiet. She spent her school day terrified blood would leak out, exposing her to ridicule from her classmates.
“At first I was so scared, I didn’t know what it was, I thought I had hurt myself,” exaplains Tatu over the din of a women’s rights march in Kibera, her home and one of Kenya’s largest slums. The march has been organised by non-profit The Cup, which provides menstrual cups to girls like Tatu.
Today, little trace is left of that fear. Tatu is now 17 and uses a menstrual cup that she can wash regularly and use for up to ten years. “[Menstruation] happens to all girls, why would I be embarrassed?”
But Tatu’s initial experience is common across Kenya, and the rest of the continent. As many as one in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa are missing school during menstruation.READ MORE