Suljana is a 30 year old woman living in the village of Panga, just outside of Kathmandu. She is one of hundreds of people who have taken refuge from dangerous buildings in camps set up outside the village.
Suljana is a teacher, and spends much of her day with girls aged 12, or thereabouts. She says that getting their periods in the situation is a huge issue for women and girls. Sharing tents with others while menstruating is particularly problematic, she says.
“Besides family, we have been sharing the tents with neighbors and friends. There are usually 15-16 people sleeping under one tent which is extremely uncomfortable for me. I have never been able to sleep soundly in these tents where we have men outside the family and sometime even strangers.”
This is made all the worse when the women get their periods.
“It is particularly awkward during menstruation periods to share tents with men. In our culture we are supposed to sleep alone when we menstruate but I have no option here at temporary shelters. During the first two days of my period I bleed heavy and I have been so uncomfortable having to share the same roof with so many people that I could not fall asleep for those two days.
“Menstruation is a taboo in our culture; many of the women are reluctant to talk about it and young girls hesitate to share their trouble. There have been a few cases of young girls having their first menstruation period and they required special attention and counseling [in this time]. Fortunately we had received the sanitary pads [in the relief effort] hence we managed it well.”
Suljhana says that being provided with extra tents has been critical for women dealing with the crisis and for ensuring that they are able to cope when they do get their period.
“I would like to thank ActionAid Nepal for providing us with tents; at least now, we can have a separate roof for our family.”
Further to ensuring that women have the privacy they need by providing tents and building temporary shelters for each family affected by the earthquake, ActionAid is providing sanitary pads as a part of hygiene kits that are being distributed widely to women in affected communities.
Written by Holly Miller