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Ilanga Provincial Newspapers

Disadvantage of rural girl child

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GIRLS living in rural areas have bemoaned the challenges they encounter in sexual
reproductive health, which have to do with their menstrual cycle due to incapacitation in
terms of knowledge and resources, which damages their self-esteem and confidence.
While traditional families have lost their value, new families have emerged which comprise
child-headed families, which have created gaps in the girl child's life as there are no longer
aunties and grandmothers, who traditionally played a critical role in initiating the girl child in
different gradual changes taking place in their bodies.
In terms of hygiene, there are not enough sanitary wear to use and they end up resorting to
unhealthy methods which end up endangering their lives.
One of the girl children who, spoke on condition of anonymity, said she was failing to access
sanitary wear, a situation, which traumatises her.
“I believe that menstruation is something that each and every women should be proud of, but
for me, it is the other way round. It is so challenging because I lack sanitary wear as l have to
depend on my grandmother to sell her little produce so that l can have the proper sanitary
wear.
“It complicates our lives because if there are no buyers for the produce that means l will go
on my menstruation cycle without pads, which inflicts low self- esteem and makes me feel
less of a human being,” narrated the girl.
Another girl, Mandlo, echoed similar sentiments, saying her mother cannot afford sanitary
wear.
“My mother cannot afford to purchase sanitary wear for me due to lack of funds, therefore l
end up using old clothing material that I wash after use and reuse. It is so challenging because
it creates discomfort because anytime you can spoil your clothes,” said Mandlo.
Lerato, another girl, shared her experience on how she had to struggle to accept her first
menstrual periods because of lack of knowledge.
“I grew up in a child-headed family with no parents around as they went out of the country
for greener pastures. Therefore, it meant that some of the basic knowledge about growing up
was inaccessible, so l was totally clueless. Therefore, when l started my menstrual periods l
had to think that something bad has happened to me and I panicked,” said Lerato.
Sinikeziwe Ngwenya, who is an administrator at Lesego Memorial Trust, said as an
organisation they fully support the girl child on matters that concern their menstrual periods.
“As Lesego Memorial Trust, we make sure that we assist the girl child on menstruation
matters, through offering them sanitary wear and also teaching them good hygiene. We have
a programme that we are going to carry out where we have selected some of the schools. The
programme will begin in May, where we will be distributing sanitary wear that will sustain
the girl child throughout the year,” said Ngwenya.

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