Fierce

A 14-Year-Old Was Reportedly Driven To Suicide After She Was Humiliated At Her Own School For Having Her Period

A 14-year-old Kenyan girl killed herself after being period shamed by a teacher when she did not have access to a pad. The tragedy has caused unrest in Kenya, unifying women Parliament members to end period stigma, causing parents to mobilize, and launching a formal investigation into the girl’s death. Period shame around the world is an oppressive force that undermines bodily autonomy, education, and personal freedoms for girls and nonbinary people by stigmatizing a basic body function.

According to the United Nations Population Fund report on Menstrual Health Management in East and Southern Africa, “Studies from Kenya find that schoolgirls engage in transactional sex to pay for menstrual products, particularly for the younger, uneducated, economically dependent girls.” 

In the United States, a survey of 1500 women and 500 men by THINX revealed that 58 percent of women felt a sense of embarrassment for simply being on their period and 42 percent said they had been explicitly period shamed.

While Kenya has recently taken steps to make sanitary napkins more accessible at schools, this structural failure has led to a tragic loss. 

Period shaming can have tragic consequences. 

A 14-year-old Kenyan girl started her period for the very first time while at middle school in Bomet County, Kenya. When she couldn’t obtain a pad, the girl began to bleed through her school uniform. Unable to concentrate, due to the incident, she asked for help. Then her teacher berated her in class, calling her “dirty” for staining her clothes. 

Forced to leave the classroom, she walked home. After telling her mother what happened, she said she was going to go fetch water, but instead, she killed herself. According to a local Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation, Konoin Sub-County Police Commander Alex Shikondi said that officers took the girl’s body to a nearby hospital. 

“When police arrived at the scene, they found the girl had committed suicide… and the body was moved to Kapkatet Hospital mortuary,” said Commander Alex Shikondi.

Parents want answers.

The girl’s mother, Beatrice Koech, spoke to Daily Nation about what happened. She claimed her daughter believed the female teacher would be an ally to her, and help her understand what was happening. Instead, her daughter was shamed in front of the classroom. 

“She had nothing to use as a pad,” Koech told the newspaper. “When the blood stained her clothes, she was told to leave the classroom and stand outside.”

Koech reported the incident to police, but after four days of inaction, parents stormed the school in protest. Parents wanted to know why the teacher shamed the 14-year-old. Police threw tear gas canisters at the parents who were blocking the road to the school. Officers arrested five demonstrators. The school was closed and students were sent home. 

Basic Education Act of 2017

Kenya passed the Basic Education of 2017, which makes access to menstrual napkins mandatory in public schools across the country. Pads in public schools are not a mere luxury, the necessary product is inaccessible to many in the region. Just last year, the capital of Kenya itself was hit with a tampon shortage when there was massive Kotex recall in Nairobi due to a malfunctioning batch.

When a person has their period and no sanitary napkins or tampons, they are more likely to stay home from school. This can have negative effects on girls’ and nonbinary folks’ education and self-esteem, often making children feel like a burden. 

“The cost of menstrual products may also contribute to the perception that daughters are economically burdensome,” according to the United Nations

School is often the only place where students can get pads, which is why the Basic Education Act is great. Nevertheless, many schools have still not implemented the program or have been skipped over. 

Kenyans want justice.

According to BuzzFeed, “An organization called One Dollar for Life, which makes and distributes reusable pads to girls across Kenya, has ramped up its outreach in light of the girl’s death last week. Program manager Brenda Birrell told BuzzFeed News via email that the group plans to hand out 1,000 reusable pad kits — which also contain information about self-defense, female biology, and feminine hygiene — over the next two months.”

Women members of Kenyan’s Parliament occupied the Ministry of Education to pressure a police investigation. After parents and lawmakers held their ground, the police finally launched a formal investigation into the girl’s death.

“What must she be going through in her life to have that be her reaction?” Megan White Mukuria, whose organization ZanaAfrica Foundation provides pads and reproductive education to girls, told BuzzFeed. 

“The reality for a lot of women can be very difficult. [Maybe] her cup has not been filled, and her rights have not been taught to her.”

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Remember The Day You Got Your Period For The First Time?

Fierce

Remember The Day You Got Your Period For The First Time?

Chris Hondros / Getty

No matter how old you are, you’ll always remember what it was like to get your first period. Of course, we all have different experiences with them. For some, our first periods were kind of a bit traumatizing. For others, it was was one of the most empowering moments of our lives.

To celebrate our first periods, we asked FIERCE Latinas to share their experiences and the stories were both sweet and hilarious.

Check out some of the stories below!

This gift from god period.

“I got mine on Christmas when I was 12, and my aunt was like “it’s a gift from God!” – 444nates

This one that sparked tears.

“I was 11 and it was Valentine’s Day in sixth grade. I was wearing black pants but I was so scared to tell anyone so when I got home I tried to cover it up like nothing happened. The next morning when I woke up for school my sister was the one who noticed because there was blood on my shorts. She called my mom and my mom came home from work and cried because “I was a woman now” so then I started crying cause I was scared 😂 my mom let me stay home from school for the week and my dad told her she should stay with me so I’m comfortable.” – lichensnfronds

This one that came to church.

“I got mine during morning Sunday mass. I felt wet and I went to bathroom and when I looked down I was like, “oh god it’s happening awww man. I shouldn’t have made fun of yesenia for getting her’s last week.” – angiemhrndz

What is it with periods on holy days, seriously?

“Easter Sunday. 10 years old almost 11, I freaked out in the bathroom of the church.” – dearmelrose

This one that gives Remember the Alamo a different sentiment.

“It was Summertime and our parents always had different activities planned for us. This particular day, we were visiting The Alamo. I was 10 and right before leaving I made that last minute bathroom trip when I realized I got my period. I called my mom and she immediately gave me a pep talk & the stuff I needed, I already knew about it but was surprised. I was like “We’re STILL going to The Alamo?!” Needless to say “Remember The Alamo” has an entirely different meaning for me!!” – tish1972

This one that took some time to share with her mom.

“I was 16 when I got my period… and I was scared didn’t told my mom until late that day. I was using two chones meanwhile.” – tatiana.r92

And this one that came at a really bad time.

“I got mine on Father’s Day with my brother and dad at the movie theaters I went to the bathroom and didn’t know what to do because I had nothing with me and my dad knocked on the door and told me to hurry up and what was taking so long so I put a lot of paper and waited till I got home.” – _jessica_silva17

This one that traumatized.

“11 at home, I think!? I had an older sister and classes were they gave us free pads and educated us on the subject. Still traumatizing lol.” – k.cuzco

This one that came a bit early and at a hard time.

“I was a little over a month shy of 10 years old. My mom was in prison and I was living with my dad and his new wife. (Who 20+ years later is still not a mom to her own children so she def wasn’t tryin to be mine) My friend had stayed the night and we were just waking up. I was crying in the bathroom so she got my dad, who got his wife, who said “it’s okay, you’re fine. ” Then handed me a pad she received from the hospital after giving birth to my brother a week or so prior. When my mom called that day she started crying and apologizing for not being there for me.
I swore to my girls I’d be there for them always. When my almost 12 year old called me a few Saturday mornings ago from her dad’s house and let me know she had gotten hers, I jumped outta bed and went straight to her.
I can’t do anything about the way I grew up, I can only make sure my daughters have a better go of it.” – xicana_402

This one that made her think she was dying.

“11 and the bus ride home from school. I thought I was dying.” – reinders.v

“Started one morning that I had basketball practice before school in 8th grade. Mom couldn’t drive me so I had to walk myself to school, got in trouble for being late, and I remember wanting to cry cause I was both shook and pissed off for being punished by mother nature AND my coach.” – cynthia_a7

When a baby came the same day as her period.

“My mom had just given birth to my brother (I was 10) and I was at the hospital. My grandma ran out and said,”it happened! A baby and a period in the same day!” – ashleylynne92

This one that came with a super sweet gift.

“I was 9 & at the apple store bc my uncle was kind enough to buy me an ipod and i geniuenly thought i had peed myself or something and i told my mom but she got confused and told me to hold it till we got home. then i went to the bathroom when i got home and panicked so i told my mom and she had to just do a mini explanation.” – crystalramirezx

This one that ruined a pair of super cute shorts.

“12 was ecstatic to wear my new all white glitter shorts. Summer vacation, I step out my room feeling my myself passed my dad he nearly fainted (didn’t say a word) went to my mom a floor down and I was about to sit in the white sofas we had before I twirled for my mom to show her my outfit when she stopped gasped and told me to shower. The rest I don’t remember what happened, I do know we threw my shirts away. Wore them for maybe 30 mins.” – gu.pita

This one that was poorly timed because of an RBD announcement

‘Back when RBD announced they were splitting up 🥺 worst week ever tbh.” – josiiiee__

This super sad story that ended with being bullied.

“oh boy do i remember. So I was in private school with 75 students. And out of all the students I was the last one to get it. I was 14 years old everyone in my school was considered a woman and I was always made fun of because I was still a child (their words not mine) so the day I got mine somehow Everyone in my school found out. And some asshole’s decided to put condoms in my backpack I didn’t know they put him there so when I went to open my backpack day fell out and I was sent to the principals office and I had to explain to her that I was being bullied because I was the last one to get my. At that school. middle school dont ever want to do that again.” – memylerena

And this story that proves no shorts are safe when it comes to first periods!

“I was about 11 years old. I was playing outside with my primas and I remember feeling my biker shorts (it’s was the 90’s lol) get wet. I ran to the bathroom and I was bleeding. I called for my mom and my prima @d_quiin came to the bathroom and explained to me what I should do. I remember her telling me, not to eat lemon and other things meanwhile on it. Lol!” – esperanza_and_friends

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Women Are Opening Up About The Things We Wish Men Knew About Our Lives

Fierce

Women Are Opening Up About The Things We Wish Men Knew About Our Lives

Pablo Blazquez Dominguez / Getty

It’s not every day we get to open ourselves up enough to others to have them pick our brains. When it comes to sharing our experiences with the opposite sex this truth goes double. After all, so many in the world believe its a man’s world. And while this reality might make it more accessible for us as women to imagine what men go through, surely men know very little about what it’s like to walk in our skin.

A Reddit post is giving women a chance to give men a slight glimpse in what’s it like to be a woman, check out some enlightening experiences below.

Wearing makeup to look professional.

“The expectation of wearing makeup to look professional. If you were to wear a professional outfit, say, a pantsuit or a nice dress, it appears incomplete without makeup or hair done. Natural curly hair is also viewed as unprofessional. Women have to invest so much more time into their appearance just to appear ‘professional.'”- dividebyzero9

Being polite to live.

“Being polite to douchebags as a survival tool.”- noiseferatu

The sexual innuendos at a young age.

“Having adult men make sexual comments to you as a child. I have been followed and heckled by men when travelling to and from school, in my school uniform. Strangely I don’t get it now as an adult, but wtf as a 13 year old I could not walk past a white van or building site without comments. Legitimate opinions, annoyances and concerns are dismissed as ‘being emotional’. Yet when men get angry or moody no one questions it.” – mmlemony

Life at work.

“The expectation that I, as a mother, have a greater parental responsibility. Allow me to give a few examples. First, if being a parent comes up in any work-environment, my ability to “balance” work and home is a topic of conversation. ALWAYS. I have witnessed the promotion of men over more qualified women of child-baring age because of concerns about work/life balance. I wish I could say this was once or twice, but I have dozens and dozens of examples to pick from. I have been flat out asked about my reproductive plans during interviews. My husband has never had conversations that resemble this at all. Second,if I am ever somewhere without my child, I am asked where my kid is. She’s at home- with her father! When there is a school issue, I’m always called first. I was actually called during work hours because I didn’t attend a school event in “honor” of mothers day. My husband did not receive a call when he couldn’t make it to the fathers day event at the same school. This is equally a slight against my husband, because he is often left out of interactions that involve our child when there is an equal chance that he would be the one who would be involved with planning and executing stuff for our child. He once called out of work because our child was ill, and he was directly asked where her mother was. He was just as offended as I was ( I married well!). He gets looked at strangely for sitting next to a playground, that he is at with our child!” – papillon24

Being considered unattractive because you’re aging.

“I’m a 43-year-old woman. The expectation of looking good…for my age is incredible. If I don’t look at least 5 years younger it’s like I failed something.
“Yeah but this actress or that model looks so good and she’s your age.” If I had a team of skin/hair/makeup specialists and was working full time on myself I would look great too.” – sonia72quebec

Men believing you’re incapable to even buy a car.

“Came here for this. When I went to buy my car, the car salesman goes, “Where’s your boyfriend? Working today?” I had not told him I had one, but of course that was the ONLY way poor little old me could be doing the actual purchasing of a vehicle. Which I proceeded to do, in cash, outright, with my own money that I had made. And then same thing when I’ve been looking for mechanics. Seems like even the most highly reviewed places have a slew of comments from women explaining how they tried to screw them over because they were a woman. It’s fucked.” – shopadope

Feeling uncomfortable about swimming.

“I don’t usually feel I can “just go swimming”. I need to shave, check time of the month, and feel comfortable in my own skin, which tends to prevent the snap decisions of “Let’s go swimming” I enjoyed as a kid.” – PintsizedPachyderm

The ongoing harassment.

“Being constantly harassed. Random dudes messaging me on social media offering sex just out of the blue. Business clients trying to get my personal contacts, finding me on Facebook. Couch trying to convince me I need ‘personal’ sessions which meant me staying after the hours in empty class with him, which I declined of course. Etc, etc. And I am not even pretty! I can only imagine what pretty girls go through.” – nicolaspussin

That feeling that adventures are limited.

“It’s unrealistic to think that all women will have the same ideas about what’s hard. But mine might be… My adventures are limited because of my gender. There are more things I shouldn’t do, and places in the world I shouldn’t go, than there are for men, because as a solo female traveler or adventurer, it’s not advisable. That kinda sucks. *Also: I have common sense. I am smart. My emotions sometimes overrule this. I am embarrassed but it’s part of who I am. Just know this and help me laugh about it. Don’t make me feel bad about it.” –Whoneedsyou

That our gender has everything to do with the quality of our work.

“Having virtually everything one does be preceded by the fact you’re a woman. Example: You’re not a programmer, you’re a female programmer. Certain women find benefits in accepting this sort of labeling, but it exists whether you like it or not. My gender has nothing to do with the quality of my work. It actually has very little to do with anything. Also, being comparable to other women – but this is something I feel is experienced by everyone in varying degrees. What another woman does/says to you has nothing to do with me; I shouldn’t have to answer for it. Women are humans and humans are different from one another. Everyone just relax. EDIT – Oi, quit flooding my inbox with the “Male Nurse” comparison. I understand. It happens to everyone, as I said originally. I only meant to point out that it happens to women quite often, and the distinction between “female” and “male” is unnecessary altogether when talking about occupation, for example. This goes beyond a minor annoyance when you consider how prevalent sexism is in many fields.” – logician-magician

It’s your fault you don’t want to bone.

“You’re a bitch for “friend-zoning” him and leading him on, when you never demonstrated romantic interest in the first place.” – goldstartup

The fear of being vulnerable.

“Men are assumed to be competent until they prove that they aren’t; women are assumed to be incompetent until they prove that they are. It’s really tough to get past that barrier in a lot of places, especially the workforce or in fields that are not traditionally ‘feminine’. Being afraid just to exist out in the world is another thing. There is just this constant undercurrent of fear that we all have, especially at night, especially alone. The feeling of vulnerability is just so hard to explain to someone who has never experienced it.” – Reddit user

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