“I was confined to the house for seven days”
“I was 13 when I got my period. I thought I’d hurt myself,” recalls Alinafe (left), 15, from Malawi.
The teenager rushed to tell her friend, but they were both alarmed when the blood flow didn’t stop. When Alinafe’s mother found out, the young girl was sent to her neighbor’s house, where she was given some rags. Alinafe then went to stay with her grandmother, in another community.
“I was told to stay inside my grandmother’s house for a week and taught how to wear rags, so I didn’t stain my clothes with blood and bring shame on my family,” said Alinafe.
Alinafe also had her genitals checked to ensure she was ready for sexual intercourse.
“I was checked by my grandmother and she was fine with the state of my genitalia,” said Alinafe.
Cooking was an issue too.
“I wasn’t allowed to cook food until my second period – and I was told not to put any salt in people’s food,” said Alinafe.
The seven day “quarantine” also resulted in missed school classes.
“I missed some lessons, but I have now graduated into adulthood. When I came out of confinement, we held a ceremony,” says Alinafe.
The women talk to girls about several issues, including menstrual hygiene. They also have sessions with the girls who have not started menstruating yet.