“I remember when we were growing up, we were told, “don’t let a dog sniff on your blood.” These days, you have used a pad and you don’t know where it is ending, wont the dog meet it there?”A Senior Civil Servant
Honestly, at the time, I did not understand that bit about “don’t let a dog sniff on your blood.” However, I made a judgement call not to ask her to clarify what she meant. This is because I did not want to break the sisterhood rapport that we had gained meeting for the first time.
And then yesterday, as I chatted menstrual hygiene with women street vendors at the Street Market, the issue of the dog and menstrual blood came up again. One of the vendors I chatted with, a young woman vending fruits, brought it up. She said her elders told her “if a dog sniffs and licks your blood, you will not have children, you will be barren.”
Even though we laughed about it, I sense it is a belief some women find convincing enough for them to be careful how they dispose off used pads and to maintain personal hygiene during their period. As a cultural anthropologist, I think it an effective story that our ancestors created to scare girls into ensuring personal hygiene and also public health. Which is a good thing.
I don’t think though that a dog sniffing one’s menstrual blood, can make a woman infertile. If it were the case, fertility rates in Uganda would be so low among its working women. For after all, current practice in Uganda is that we, working women, are forced to dispose our used pads together with other solid waste and they end up in landfills.
“I went to the dumping site and I saw how used pads were just being dumped there. I don’t want to see this used pad being dumped just any how. You meet dogs running with them in their mouths.
I usually talk to my kids and tell them, never throw a used pad into a toilet. I make sure that I burn them. I have something small at home which I use to burn used pads and buvera (polythene). And the schools they are in, I tell my kids, never dump your used pad in a toilet. Take it to an incinerator. I make sure that the school that I take them to, there is an incinerator.
For pads, most of them, that covering is a kavera (polythene) and so it takes long to decompose into manure. I think burning is the best way. Not in the open. When you do open burning it pollutes the environment. That is why am opting that we use the incinerators.”A Senior Civil Servant
Unfortunately, according to a Ministry of Education and Sports Report, 80 percent of public schools don’t have incinerators. Among other reasons, this is the justification for our CPAR Uganda menstrual hygiene campaign. Please click here to learn more about it and to make a donation.
This post was written by our Managing Director, Ms. Norah Owaraga.