Poverty Forces Girls to Use Cow Dung as Sanitary Pads in Socialist Zimbabwe

Extreme poverty has recently forced girls in rural Zimbabwe to use dried cow dung as an alternative to sanitary pads during menstrual cycles, Africanews reported on Monday.

“Sanitary pads are a luxury I cannot afford for my girls,” Vhene Gumedhe, who cares for her two granddaughters and three other girls, told the news agency on July 11.

Gumedhe and her charges reside in a rural village called Domboshava, which is located about 18 miles north of Zimbabwe’s national capital, Harare.

The impoverished woman explained to Africanews on Monday how she creates sanitary pads from cow dung, stating:

I take the dung, mould it and leave it to dry so that it easily absorbs the blood. The girls do not put the cow pattie directly on the skin. I wrap many clothes over it to avoid itching when placed on the underwear. Then I show them how to close their private parts to block the bleeding.

The girls have heavy flows with cycles that typically last six days. We prefer this method because cow patties soak up a lot of blood. Once soaked, we dispose of it privately by burying it in the ground. Our Shona culture does not allow that men see such things.

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