We recently took part in a youth & student leader delegation to Southern Africa organised by ACTSA. After campaigning to free Zimbabweans in the UK and in Zimbabwe itself, such as our comrades from ZCTU, we are now supporting ACTSA in one of the most inspiring campaigns - Dignity! Period
A pack of sanitary towels in Zimbabwe can cost more than double the average monthly wage. As a result, many women are forced to use newspapers and dirty rags, a practice which leads to infections, for which there is little available medication. Worse still, these infections are often misconstrued as STIs, leading to social embarrassment and domestic violence.
This about real lives, real people. Beauty Mujulama is 19 years old and lives with her father and her 3 sisters in a small village called Kwanga. This is her story:
"When my period started my mother got me sanitary products from the shop in the city of Gweru. It was normal and I didn’t think anything of using this method. Then things started to get very expensive and my mother got very sick. She died 2 years ago from AIDS and my father was left to care for me and my younger sisters. He couldn’t afford to buy us sanitary pads and didn’t think that it was important that we had them.
When my mother died I started to use the bark of trees. We put the bark in an organ to grind, and then used that instead of pads. There is very soft grass called Magudya and I also used that instead of pads as well. The bark or grass burns inside of the thighs so that it can be very hard for a person to walk. The two thighs will have some wounds every month when you receive your menstruation. It was very hard to maintain good cleanliness. When it got very bad I told my father than I thought I was infected and he presumed that I had had sex with one of my school friends who is a boy. He said that it was an STI and that I should be ashamed because my religion says that I cannot have sex with someone before I am married. My father hit me and he told me I was not allowed to see my friends.
I was very upset and I wanted my father to understand. Now I can access the products again things are ok and my father said sorry since he now believes me that it wasn’t an STI because another girl in the village was suffering from the same infections. I hope that we will be able to get products for ourselves very soon. It is so great that people are supporting us abroad and having these pads has really changed my life."
Through lack of affordable sanitary protection, women in Zimbabwe are losing their dignity with every period. But now you can help them to get it back. Get involved!