Millie Odhiambo asks teenage girls to reject sanitary towels ‘gifts’ from men
Menstrual hygiene is something teenage girls struggle with as they come to terms with their body works.
This is the experience that Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo had to endure when she was growing up.
Ms Odhiambo recalled how every month she had to go to hospital due to excessive bleeding.
She narrated how she struggled with her menses which she described as the most terrible experience she had as a young girl growing into womanhood.
At the hospital, the legislator said she would be accused of procuring an abortion due to the nature of her condition.
“I was admitted to hospital every month when I experienced excessive bleeding. Some doctors unknowingly accused me of having an abortion,” Ms Odhiambo said when she had a mentorship talk with school children in Homa Bay.
Her condition made her have severe cramps and blood loss and despite moving from one hospital to another while seeking a solution to her condition, no health facility in the country could reach a conclusion as to what the problem was.
The MP said that menstruation is not something that should not be viewed as a disease and that girls should be proud of it, even when they find themselves in difficult situations.
Today, purchase of sanitary towels is a challenge to most teenagers and a programme by the government to purchase pads for school going children failed.
Ms Odhiambo asked teenage girls from valuable families to use old clothes as sanitary towels.
The legislator told the girls not to rely on men to buy them pads.
Instead she said they can address their menstrual hygiene by controlling blood flow using pieces of clothes.
“You can take old blankets, cut them to pieces and fold them before using them as sanitary towels,” Ms Odhiambo said.
Some cases of teenage pregnancies in Homa Bay are attributed to poverty.
Some teenage girls from poor families are reported to be lured by men who buy them pads before asking for sexual favors.
This has led to rise in cases of defilement leading to teenage pregnancies.
According to the Kenya Demographic health survey, teenage pregnancies in Homa Bay is 23 per cent.
Ms Odhiambo said she is concerned about the high number of teenage mothers as she advised them not to fall prey to men.
“The judiciary should ensure perpetrators get maximum sentence to serve as an example to others,” she proposed.
She also told men who are fond of defiling teenagers to control themselves by pouring cold water on their bodies when they have sexual urge.
“If you are sexually active and have no partner, you better sleep. Do not hunt for teenagers because the law will catch up with you,” the MP said.
The legislator has sponsored a bill in parliament that seeks to promote reproductive health.
The proposed law dubbed Family Representative Healthcare Bill has already been presented in parliament and will help in strengthening other laws to safeguard teenagers and women from sexual abuse.
“It is a comprehensive bill dealing with reproductive health care. It will work alongside the Sexual Offence Act,” Ms Odhiambo said.
Ms Odhiambo said she noted a lot of teenage girls struggling with reproductive health with some failing to understand their physical and biological wellbeing.
As a consequence, some fall victims to perpetrators who abuse them.
The bill she sponsored will make members of the public speak freely about reproductive health.
“Some tribes consider menstrual hygiene as a taboo and no one will speak about it. It has made teenagers suffer in silence. My bill will change this,” Ms Odhiambo said.