Man on a mission to break taboo around ‘the menstrual curse’
3 months ago, 16 Apr 04:54
It’s just shortly before midnight, two days after Easter Sunday, when Denis Nzioka tweets a picture of his new stash of pads and tampons. “My monthly supply of tampons and pads. If in need, or know anyone in need, kindly reach out to me and I will have them delivered at no cost. I also deliver to mental hospitals, Catholic sisters’ nunneries and to women in prison. You can also stop me on the streets,” the tweet says.
It earns him rebuke and praise in equal measure.
“Monthly supply? Kwani you have grown a v*****?” one female comments.
“This is creepy ... Why would you be carrying pads just in case a woman needs them?? Stop being dragged into toxic feminism,” another asks.
“It has been terrible since that post,” says Nzioka, afterwards. “Terrible in the sense that I have been ridiculed and insulted, mostly by men – but also some women. However, most of the responses have been supportive.”
But having lived on the fringes of society as a gay rights activist, Denis is accustomed to being derided online.
“I’m used to such responses, but they can’t stop me. Many people reached out to me after my post, showing me that there is a huge gap in access to pads for girls and women. In my own little way, I am addressing this, one day and one person, at a time,” he says.
WHAT'S IN MY BAG
On a typical day, Nzioka carries a pack or two of pads or tampons in his bag.
“I factor in a sizeable supply — enough to fit into my carry-on bag, and maybe extras in my car— during my monthly shopping. I have pads all year round and usually re-stock anytime I run out or if I get a particular demand.”
He has been carrying pads for the last 10 years but added tampons recently.
“Tampons are used by women for their portability, discreetness and ease of use. I think pads are mostly for those with heavy flows, and because they are easily available and affordable.”
“I added panty liners as they are really popular these days. I’ve also had women who request certain tablets to help with menstrual cramps, which cost say 10 bob. Others have requests for a roll of tissue or wipes so I also carry some – just in case. My last shopping for pads, tampons and panty liners that I could carry comfortably in my bag cost around Sh2,000. I have a pack of baby wipes as well since I am raising a four-month-old old boy!”
The devout Catholic and human rights defender insists that we should question the language around menstruation.
“Why do we refer to pads as ‘sanitary’? Are we further perpetuating the belief that women who menstruate — or menstruation — is dirty, and thus needs ‘sanitation?’ No, they are not ‘sanitary pads’ they are (menstrual) pads. Menstruation is not dirty, shameful or wrong. We should embrace our bodies and their functions,” he asserts.
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