Do you ever wonder why male condoms are free but sanitary pads are for sale? Why sexual need is prioritized more than natural occurrences?
But this is the world in which we live, where men’s desires are prioritized over women needs.
I have had this conversation with many men, of course they told me that male condoms were made free to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
But think about it, women existed way before HIV/AIDS but no one ever thought that our menstrual needs were important as men’s protection.
When I was young, there were times I lacked school fees to go to school but that is nothing compared to number of women who miss school, every five days a week because they are on their periods.
If men were the ones who got periods, believe me, menstrual products would be for free because we live in a world that is male dominated.
Right from when a woman is 9 to 13 years old, she will experience her first period which will be constant for the rest of her life. Shouldn’t such instances be taken care of by the society and government? I mean, we have free maternity services but lets just be honest, a woman will need that only 1- 3 times in her life, or more if she decides to have more children. But menstruation comes every month, every 3- 7 days and even more for some women, so why aren’t sanitary towels free?
For a society that pretends to care for the lives of women, why make us suffer even more? Bleed through our vaginas for days, which I can tell you is hectic and still we have to pay for the pads! What are we paying for here? Our lives? Our existence?
Do you know how difficult it is to ask 50 shillings from a person who does not have food to buy sanitary pads? And 50 bob is only for the cheapest pads available. I have seen women go to lengths to deal with this lack of sanitary pads. Some just tear off their clothes, or sheets, anything to hold blood that wont stop flowing.
But how do I expect our leaders to understand this when most of them are men who don’t give a fuck what happens to women? Men have wives and daughters but completely shun themselves from the real experiences of these women.
Rather than understand what we go through when we are bleeding, men just shame us for bleeding! Men are disgusted with our periods. They rather stay away from us than be near us when we are bleeding. They think we are freaks when we are bleeding. “Imagine kidame kinakam kwangu alafu kinanishow kinanyesha!” They often comment. Its like when we are desecrating ‘their’ vaginas when bleeding.
The women who are representing us in government, surely do not understand the plight of poor women in Kenya who they advise to take a chunk of their mattress and put it on their vaginas. I have heard that some of them are just taking money for free sanitary pads.
But the problem could also be the men in goverment. I am aware that men pay no respect and give no ear to what women say, that is why no matter how much we complain about the ills of patriarchy, men will never listen to us. The only time men listen to women is when we tell them we are on our safe days, or when we want to have sex, just when they can take us back to the sexual objects they so much like us to be. But they never help us when we are in danger, when we are being denied our rights.
Scotland became the first country in the world to make sanitary pads and tampons free in 2020. Is it possible that a country as Kenya, that thrives on the subordination and shaming of women can join board? That for once, we can copy something from the westerners that actually benefits more than half of our population?
So am relying on a few right-minded men and women to hear the cries of women in Pokot, in Dandora, Mathare, Kibera and all around, to finally do the right thing, remove the shame surrounding our periods, and make sanitary towels free.