A 14-year-old girl from Kenya has reportedly died by suicide last week after she was being period-shamed by her teacher after bleeding through her clothes.
Jackline Chepngeno was reportedly kicked out of class after getting her period for the first time ever last Friday in class. The girl’s mother, Beatrice Koech, told The Daily Nation that her daughter didn’t have a pad on hand, and bled through her pants. Koech said the teacher at her school in Kabiangek (which is located in Kenya’s southwester region) called her daughter “dirty,” and humiliated her publicly. Local authorities say the teen’s death is under investigation, BBC reports.
“She had nothing to use as a pad,” Koech said. “When the blood stained her clothes, she was told to leave the classroom and stand outside.”
The death prompted approximately 200 parents to protest outside of the school, resulting in five arrests and a temporary closure of the facility, BBC reports. The tragedy also inspired political action. Hon. Esther M. Passaris, a member of Kenya’s National Assembly, tweeted on Wednesday: “Together with fellow Women MPs, we’ve laid siege at the Ministry of Education in protest of the 14 year old girl who committed suicide after a female teacher publicly ridiculed her for soiling her clothes with her periods. #EndPeriodShame.
Back in 2017, Kenya passed a law that required its schools to provide free menstrual products so girls wouldn’t have to miss school while on their period. Many hoped this legislation would help combat the statistic that 1 in 10 sub-Saharan African girls miss class because of their period, per the UN’s 2014 report. But local reports note that the program hasn’t completely rolled out yet. The Guardian reports that funding is part of the problem.
Investigations into the girl’s death are under way, and the Teachers Service Commission of Kenya and the education ministry plan to release a report in the next few weeks.
Grateful to Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha for agreeing to investigate the circumstances that led to the death of a student in Bomet due to period shaming. I look forward to the outcome of your inquest & to the release of sanitary towels to schools across the country. https://t.co/G2PVVKAqHn pic.twitter.com/gqcZvwTZ4I
— Hon. Esther M Passaris (@EstherPassaris) September 12, 2019