Culture Editorials

Why African Girls Are still Paying for Menstruating: Menstruation Myths

Africa may have totally embraced civilization, but it has not been able to cut its ties with culture and tradition, especially the barbaric ones.  While millions of girls are enjoying the benefits of education around the world, there are still girls suffering because they menstruate.

Menstruation is something every woman pray to witness in her girl, and when it delays there is this panic that is spread around the females of a home.  In Ghana, there is a school that requires you to cross a river called River Ofin, before you learn from it. In this river lives a god that can only speak to those who hear it.

This assumed god has given an order that a girl should not cross the river while menstruating, and as a result they have to miss 20 out of 60 days of their school classes.  While mothers are struggling to keep their girls in school during their periods, a god from somewhere is thwarting this effort.

The UN’s scientific and education organisation, Unesco, estimates one in 10 girls in the region does not attend school because they are menstruating, while a World Bank report notes that 11.5m Ghanaian women lack the appropriate hygiene and sanitation management facilities needed.

The River Ofin, which is a boundary between the Ashanti and Central Region is violating the right of a child girl. Ghana is not the only place where menstruation is considered sacred. In Botswana, menstruation topic is spoken in hushed tones. The elderly women will make sure that the topic is sacred and it is treated as a secret.  The topic is something that only women can speak without the men.

There are names for menstruation around the world, and whichever name that you call it, it has not changed the way most men considered women during their periods.  Menstruation is often taken as an embarrassment that most ladies will never speak about it. Some little girls may hide it from their mothers for many months until they are caught.

The stigma around menstruation is something that does not give room for a lot of discussion. Most ladies see it as dirt that should never be mentioned in public. The god in River Ofin may not be the only force that does not want to deal with menstruating girls. There are some husbands or partners who stay far away from their wives or girlfriends during this period.  Even though, there is no harm staying close to these ladies during their periods, the mere mention of blood can drive most of them insane.

Africa should stand up to their girls. A menstruating girl is not a plague and should not be treated as an outcaste. If we cannot support these little girls during periods and allow them grow with this stereotype, it may be difficult to correct some notions.

It is not only in Ghana that girls are suffering during their periods, there are thousands of places around Africa where girls are confined, treated badly or made to suffer because they are menstruating. It is time to make the world better for these girls.