In Kabiangek, a small Kenyan village just west of the country’s capital, the ruthless period shaming of a fourteen-year-old girl resulted in her suicide.
On Friday, September 6, Jackline Chepngeno was attending class at Kabiangek Primary School when she began her period. This was Chenpngeno’s first period, and she had no prior knowledge of the biological processes of menstruation. After soiling her undergarments, the schoolgirl confided in her female classmates, who stated that Chenpngeno was confused and unable to concentrate on her studies.
Chenpngeno also told her female teacher, an unknowingly fatal mistake. The instructor proceeded to humiliate her in front of the entire class. Chenpngeno was mocked, called “dirty,” and told to leave class. She walked home without any sanitary products to prevent her from further soiling her clothes. When Chenpngeno returned, she told her mother she was going to fetch water from a nearby water pan and hanged herself.
“She had nothing to use as a pad. When the blood stained her clothes, she was told to leave the classroom and stand outside,” Beatrice Koech, Chenpngeno’s mother, stated. Koech reported the case to the local police and demanded an investigation of the school teacher who publicly humiliated and shamed her daughter.
Kenyan public schools are legally required to provide free sanitary towels to schoolgirls, but made no effort to investigate the school’s noncompliance and resulting death. After four days of inaction, over 200 parents stormed the school. Police responded to the protests with violence, throwing tear-gas canisters into the crowd. Five protestors were arrested.
While action has yet to be taken, local police reported that the case is currently under investigation. The community is still in mourning. “Sadly,” one villager stated, “we have lost a young, promising girl who would have made a positive contribution to the development of society.”