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Kenyan schoolgirl took own life after being period shamed

PERIOD POVERTY: Issues around accessibility to sanitary products and menstruation shaming have sparked protests around the world

A 14-YEAR-OLD Kenyan schoolgirl took her own life after she was allegedly shamed for being on her period and staining her uniform.

The teacher called the schoolgirl “dirty” and made her leave the class, according to reports.

The girl was left humiliated by a female teacher after the incident, her mother told local media.

“She had nothing to use as a pad. When the blood stained her clothes, she was told to leave the classroom and stand outside,” Kenya’s Daily Nation reported the girl’s mother said.

Her mother told the news outlet that it was her daughter’s first experience of her period.

After she was expelled from her class, the girl walked home and relayed the incident to her mother. She then went to fetch water but took her own life.

News of the girl’s death and a perceived lack of investigation into the factors that contributed to her suicide have sparked outrage with more than 200 parents protesting outside the school in Kabiangek, just outside Nairobi.

In response to the protesters, police used tear gas to scatter the crowd and arrested five of the demonstrators.

In footage of the gathering outside the school, protesters could be seen removing the school gate.

MP Esther M Passaris called for an end to period shaming and announced that she and a group of female MPs

“Together with fellow women MPs, we’ve laid siege at the ministry of education in protest of the 14-year-old girl who committed suicide after a female teacher publicly ridiculed her for soiling her clothes with her period,” Passaris wrote on Twitter.

She also said: “All teachers male or female have 'a duty of care' for their students. Once the report is out we will be able to understand what drove the young soul to her death. My guess is raging poverty, and a blend of mental, emotional and physical abuse which is rampant in our society.”

In 2017, Kenya passed a law to provide free sanitary towels but campaigners say more needs to be done to improve accessibility to sanitary products and provide education to de-stigmatise menstruation.

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