Kenyan Senator Sparks Debate About "Period Shaming"
Kenyan Senator Gloria Orwoba received opposition from colleagues after pulling off a stunt to raise awareness around "period stigma."
A Kenyan senator was relieved from her duties at the Kenyan parliament after attending a Senate hearing session wearing a white suit stained with red, in what was a menstrual activism campaign.
\u201cI have warned all legislators in parliament against attempting to figure out my ovulation days! \nAti sasa wanasema watanisaidia Ku manage periods zangu \ud83e\udd26\ud83c\udfff\u200d\u2640\ufe0f\n\n#TeamGlo nisaidieni please!!!!! Protect Me \ud83d\ude02\n\n#EndPeriodShaming\n#EndPeriodPoverty\u201d— Gloria Orwoba (@Gloria Orwoba) 1676573558
The senator is Gloria Orwoba and she is a part of the ruling coalition. On Tuesday afternoon, she was due to table a motion on a bill that would give out free sanitary pads to some of Kenya's underprivileged. During the session, Kenyan senators disrupted Tuesday’s afternoon senate session to draw the Speaker’s attention to Orwoba’s “inappropriate dress code."
In response to the allegations, Orwoba protested that it was unbecoming for members of the parliament to call her out because she was on her menstrual cycle.
“I am shocked that someone can stand here and say that the House has been disgraced because a woman has had her periods,” Orwoba said.
\u201cThank you Senator Orwoba for this act of solidarity and courage. \n\nGlad that you are also following this up with legislation. \n\nAs we wait for the legislation to move forward, if you are in Nairobi, the good folks at @NuriaBooks do have pads available for free.\u201d— Dr. Roselyn Akombe (@Dr. Roselyn Akombe) 1676549757
In response to her comment, Amason Kingi, Speaker of the Senate of Kenya, asked Orwoba to change her outfit before returning to the chambers.
“Having periods is never a crime… Senator Gloria, I sympathize with you that you are going through the natural act of menstruation, you have stained your wonderful suit, I’m asking you to leave so that you go change and come back with clothes that are not stained,” Kingi said, according to BBC.
According to The Star, the stain was artificial coloring, and not blood.
While talking to BBC, Orwoba said that she was proud of the stance she took in an effort to dismantle period shame.
"Since I am always advocating against period shame, I thought I should go ahead and walk the talk," Orwoba said.
Following the incident, several senators criticized her stance, stating that it was not appropriate.
Tabitha Mutinda, an active member of the senate stated that she found Orwoba's conduct uncomfortable and inappropriate.
\u201c@Senator @gloria_orwoba , If we can have free toilet paper , Condoms Despenser in almost every toilet in the Kenya., we can also have free menstrual pads for all women.\n#FreeThePeriod \nPads Then Condoms\u201d— Simon Dedan (@Simon Dedan) 1676396344
"You don't understand if she's on the normal woman cycle or she's faking it, and it is so indecent," Mutinda said before adding that there were better ways to address the issue.
Orwoba is advocating for a motion that increase government funding for free female hygiene products and menstrual pads in all public schools, and end "period stigma." The incident at the senate building was apart of her advocacy.
In an interview with Hot 96 FM in Kenya, Orwoba said she has received hateful comments on social media since her act. So much so that she talked about stepping away from social media.
“This thing of having thick skin is not for the faint-hearted. In fact, I am really contemplating leaving Twitter…that whole cyber-bullying has gotten to me. It’s intense and it gets to you,” Orwoba said.
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