A schoolgirl in Kenya has reportedly taken her own life after she was shamed by her teacher for having her period in class and because it stained her uniform.
According to reports in the Kenyan media, the 14-year-old girl was called “dirty” for soiling her clothes and ordered to leave the class by her female teacher in Kabiangek, west of the capital of Nairobi, last Friday.
In comments reported by the BBC, the mother added: “She had nothing to use as a pad. When the blood stained her clothes, she was told to leave the classroom and stand outside.”
The education ministry and police are said to be investigating the matter and will publish a report of their findings in coming weeks.
MP Esther Passaris tweeted: “All teachers male or female have a ‘duty of care’ for their students. Once the report is out we will be able to understand what drove the young soul to her death.
“My guess is raging poverty and a blend of mental, emotional and physical abuse which is rampant in our society.”
Passaris is one of a handful of MPs who have demanded that the ministry of education take action over the matter.
The Mzalendo Twitter account, which describes itself as an organisation that tracks the activities of Kenyan legislators tweeted that Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo urged the girl’s family to sue the Ministry of Education for the loss of their child.
“Sanitary towels have been provided for in the budget. These are things you cannot delay in the ministry because, unlike infrastructure, menses cannot wait,’ she said.
“She blamed the death of the girl on TSC’s failure to train its teachers and providing sanitary towels that have already been budgeted for. She said disciplinary action should be taken against the teacher.”
Protests broke out outside the school over the matter earlier this week, resulting in the arrests of five people.
In 2017 the Kenyan government passed a law to give free sanitary towels to all schoolgirls in a bid to minimise absenteeism.
But despite the government allocating $4.7m in the 2017/2018 budget towards this, there have been reports that the scheme has failed to materialise for many girls.
Useful websites and helplines:
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on www.rethink.org.