14-Year-Old Kenyan Girl Dies By Suicide After Teacher Allegedly Period-Shamed Her
Jackline Chepngeno, 14, reportedly got her period for the first time last Friday while attending school in Kabiangek, a region in southwestern Kenya, local outlet the Daily Nation reported. The girl did not have a sanitary pad readily available and bled through her pants, her mother, Beatrice Koech, said.
Koech told the Daily Nation that the teacher taunted her daughter for getting her period and called her “dirty.”
“She had nothing to use as a pad. When the blood stained her clothes, she was told to leave the classroom and stand outside,” Koech said.
Local police told BBC the girl’s death is currently under investigation.
Female members of Parliament came together on Wednesday to protest at the Ministry of Education in the wake of the girl’s death.
“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 [period],” MP Esther Passaris tweeted.
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 pic.twitter.com/I10561MFY5— Hon. Esther M Passaris (@EstherPassaris) September 11, 2019
Chepngeno’s suicide set off protests outside of the school on Tuesday, with over 200 parents demanding the female teacher who allegedly shamed the young girl be punished. Five people were arrested after police used tear gas to disperse protesters, the Daily Nation reported. Due to protests, the school has been temporarily closed.
Kenya passed a law in 2017 requiring all schools to provide free menstrual products to female students to ensure that they are able to attend school while on their periods. The program, however, is still not rolled out completely, according to local reports. A 2014 UN report estimated that 1 in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa miss school during their menstrual cycles.