Kenyan girls forced into sex in exchange for sanitary products

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Girls in Kenya are forced to have in sex in exchange for sanitary products due to the prevalence of period poverty and the shame, stigma and public health misinformation which surrounds menstruation.

According to research by Unicef, 65 per cent of females in the Kibera slum – an area of the capital of Nairobi which is the largest urban slum in Africa – had traded sex for sanitary pads.

The humanitarian charity found 10 per cent of young adolescent girls admitted to having transactional sex for pads in western Kenya.

The research found 54 per cent of Kenyan girls reported challenges with accessing menstrual hygiene management products and 22 per cent of girls of school attending age indicated they bought their own sanitary products.

Speaking to The Independent, Andrew Trevett, Unicef Kenya chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, said the charity had found it was not uncommon for girls to be sexually abused in exchange for sanitary items.

“We have motorcycle taxis called boda bodas and the girls engage in sex with the drivers who in exchange source the sanitary pads,” he said. “This is happening for two reasons. One obvious reason is poverty – girls and women don’t have the financial means to buy sanitary products.”

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