Lilian Gama (real name withheld) is a female inmate at Mzuzu Prison. According to her somehow life for a menstruating prisoner in hard.
“As a prisoner, i do not have all the time for my privacy .Here, you can’t just go out anyhow, you need a guard to escort you outside and it is only when the matter is of great importance.”
“The situation becomes worse when I am doing my monthly periods. I am lucky because my relatives are able to provide me with sanitary pads so at least I have access to sanitary pads, but for those that do not have access to pads, life is really tough. They just use whatever they have access to, be it cartons, mattresses etc. Better off are those that can afford a cloth, however the challenge comes with laundry and drying. To avoid embarrassment and having them stolen while line drying, some just put them under the mattresses which in the end produces bad smell.”
“Talking of myself, once i use the sanitary pads, I also keep them under my mattress. Like i said, we only go out with an escort and only on pertinent matters. At least if we had a latrine inside it would have been easier to dispose used sanitary pads. unfortunately I am forced to keep my used pads until when i am opportuned to go outside. Then I can throw them away.” Lamented Gama.
Meanwhile, St John of God under the Living Noone Behind Project that is being supported by Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) has constructed an incinerator at the prison and has also distributed pads and other WASH facilities to enhance Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) for the inmates.
Speaking during a MHM training at the Prison, the Assistant National Coordinator for WSSCC, Mr Asayire Kapira encouraged other stakeholders to include all factors involved for enhanced MHM in as far as programming is concerned.
“We could not just distribute sanitary pads, where would they be disposing them? We could not just train them to make re usable pads, they need to be washed. This is why we ensured that we provide them with everything that a female would need to safely and freely menstruate. So we distributed buckets, laundry soap and built the incinerator. We are therefore urging partners to follow suite.” Finishe Kapira.