By Fatimah Idera
Racheal Adefuye, a 15-years-old sat on a tattered wooden chair, hands akimbo, thinking about how to cope with her menstrual periods as she could not afford pads due to the increase in prices.
Racheal, a student of Government College, Lagos State, was raised by her poor father, saw her period when at age 12, but was unable to confide in him(her father), as she needed a mother to relate with.
She settled for cloth as she could not afford to pay for pads due to the current economic crisis in the country, but was not always comfortable going to school with cloth menstruating because it would affect her studies.
Similarly, Balogun Rukayat, a student of Zumratul Islamiyah, was 5 years old when she lost her parents to a ghastly accident and was forced to menstruate with a cloth when she clocked 15 years of age.
“When I first started menstruating, my guardians failed to give me pads money— had to use cloth because I could not afford them on my own,” she explained.
“After the death of my parents, I stayed with my uncle and his wife who maltreated me. They always asked me to use the pages of my notebooks to menstruate anytime I asked them for money to get a pad.
” I had nothing to do and there was no money, so I embraced using clothes often, even though I was not comfortable with it”.
However, Bolajoke Elizabeth, a student of Comfort Villa, disclosed that she consulted her elder sisters and mummy when she saw her first period which made her feel comfortable amid boys, unlike other female students.
“I saw my first period when my dad and I went for a check-up. My daddy happens to be the first person to know about my period, but when I get home I consult more from my sister and mummy.
Elizabeth said she changes her pad three times daily to avoid being sordid while on her period.
Sex for pads
Teramo Oluwaseun, a 17-year-old student of Government college Ado-Ekiti shared her experience on how the lack of funds to purchase pads had put many of her friends into a family way, school dropouts, and being a mother.
She said many of her friends were lured into sex by boys with a promise to buy their sanitary items.
“Some of them end up being pregnant and dropping out of school, but fortunately for me, I had a mother who always brought me loads and packs of pads whenever she came to my boarding school.
Oluwaseun said girls’ menstrual health should be paramount to their parents, adding that she looks frustrated and devastated seeing female students look tattered and shattered during their periods.
Poverty in Nigeria causes much menstrual havoc in Nigeria, 70% of citizens are very poor, as the policy of the rich becoming richer, and the poor becoming poorer grows at a higher rate, with political leaders showing no concern about the well-being of the citizens.
To combat unhygienic menstrual among secondary school students, Nigeria should set up an organization to mobilize and sensitize girls’ children on menstruation, which had been taken over by NGOs that share pads in schools and help poor students.
Parents should help their female wards in maintaining a very clean lifestyle, especially during their periods.
Also, secondary schools should possess a sick bay where female students can visit in case anything comes up, water facilities, and good female toilets.
Furthermore, a female counselor should be made available to schools, especially boarding schools, to lecture the female students on menstrual health.