Cow dungs

Zimbabwe girls forced to use cow dungs as Sanitary wears

Zimbabwe girls forced to use cow dungs as Sanitary wears

The economic hardship in Zimbabwe has compelled many teenage girls in the rural areas to use cow dungs as sanitary wears in salvaging their monthly cycle.

According to some rural girls, the use of sanitary pad is currently taking a back seat as prices of feminine hygiene products keeps increasing, leaving them no choice than to use cow dungs, leaves, papers, clothes and other materials which could stop the blood from leaking.

A 19-year physically challenge, Constance Dimingo, in a media interview lamented that poverty in the area has made a natural monthly cycle a period of shame, thus women in their youthful age seek for substitute wears to absorb their menstrual flow or to stop it from leaking.

“I last wore a pad before my mother died last year. Now, I have to use anything I can find, cow dung, leaves, newspapers and clothes, to stop the blood from leaking. I wish my mother was still alive to buy me pads and medication for my menstrual pain,” she lamented.

Constance is one of the 72 per cent of girls located in the rural town of Domboshava, 30 km north of the capital Harare who did not have access to commercial sanitary wear, according to a study by SNV Netherlands Development Organisation in Zimbabwe.

For an equivalent of US$2, sanitary pads were beyond reach for most of the country’s 3 million menstruating girls, who live below the poverty datum line.

Constance, her epileptic sister and three other girls rely completely on the assistance of their visually impaired grandmother to manage their menstrual hygiene during that time of the month.

“Sanitary pads are a luxury, I cannot afford for my girls,” Ms Vhene Gumedhe, a grandmother cried.

Explaining how the cow dung process works, she said:

“I take the dung, mould it and leave it to dry so that it easily absorbs the blood. The girls do not put the cow pattie directly on the skin. I wrap many clothes over it to avoid itching when placed on the underwear. Then I show them how to close their private parts to block the bleeding.”

Ms Gumedhe observed that her grandchildren have heavy flow with cycle that last for six days and the cow dung helped the girls to stop their blood from leaking.

“The girls have heavy flows with cycles that typically last six days. We prefer this method because cow patties soak up a lot of blood. Once soaked, we dispose of it privately by burying it in the ground. Our Shona culture does not allow that men see such things,” she added.

The family story of these rural women mirrored that of millions of impoverished women around the Southern African nation who have resorted to desperate methods to manage their periods.

According to the Ministry of Women and Youth Affairs, 67 per cent of girls missed school during menstruation due to a lack of access to sanitary products and clean sanitation facilities.

Girls with disabilities usually dropped out of school altogether, as was the case with Constance.

Apart from missing school, health experts said these methods were breeding grounds for salmonella, E. Coli and several bacteria that could result in reproductive health infections.

“The girls complain of itching and burning sensations in the vagina. When examined at the hospitals, we noticed yeast infections, urogenital tract infections and early signs of cervical cancer due to insertion in the vaginal tract,” Ms Theresa Nkhoma, the Community Childcare Worker under the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare sad.

Ms Nkhoma appealed to government and other benevolent organisation to support the rural girls with sewing machines for the menstruating girls to learn how to make reusable pads to prevent further infections.

“We are advocating for the ladies to receive sewing machines in the villages so they can learn to make reusable pads, ” she appealed.

Meanwhile, the government of Zimbabwe has made efforts to ease the situation by scrapping taxes on all sanitary products but period poverty was being exacerbated by inflation standing at over 191.6per cent, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency.

Families have to choose between purchasing feminine hygiene products and buying food, with most settling on the latter.

Living on less than a dollar a day, pads remain a frill for Constance and her sisters who continue to bear the brunt of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis.


Written by Joyceline Natally Cudjoe

An Entertainment Columnist, Content Writer, Blogger, Novelist, Poet, and a Publicist. For business or story tip off, contact me on +233 24 646 6866 or email: [email protected]


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