A 14-year-old Kenyan girl committed suicide after her teacher scolded her for soiling her dress in class.
Jackline Chepngeno, a standard six pupil at Kabiangek Primary School in Konoin Constituency, hanged herself last Friday after she was allegedly mocked for getting her period in class, Kenyan media Daily Nation reported.
The report said the girl’s period caught her by surprise and she had no prior experience of menstruation. Her female classmates said she was confused after soiling her uniform and hardly concentrated, attracting the attention of the female teacher, the report added.
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Her mother, Beatrice Koech told local media that her daughter, prior to going out to fetch water, narrated her ordeal of how she was humiliated before the entire class.
She said the teacher called her “dirty” for soiling her dress and kicked her out.
The pupil was later found hanging from a tree. “When police arrived at the scene, they found the girl had committed suicide using a leso and the body was moved to Kapkatet Hospital mortuary,” said Konoin Sub-County Police Commander Alex Shikondi.
Her parents reported the matter to the police but, after four days of inaction by the authority, a crowd of about 200 parents protested outside the school on Tuesday.
The protestors, who were blocked from entering the school, pulled down the school gate, leading to the arrest of five demonstrators.
This led to the closure of the school and students were sent home.
Lilian Cheptiony, a resident, said it was unfortunate that the girl committed suicide over a matter that could have been sorted. “Sadly, we have lost a young promising girl who would have in future made a positive contribution to development in society,” she told Daily Nation.
The police have said that the circumstances surrounding the teen girl’s death are being investigated.
For many girls in Africa, school is interrupted because of menstruation. This is due to the lack of sanitary pads, lack of proper toilets as well as the stigma and shame surrounding menstrual hygiene.
The burden of purchasing sanitary products is on parents, or the girls themselves, usually with adverse consequences. Some private individuals and non-governmental organisations also fund and donate sanitary pads to schools and even hospitals.
As part of means to improve access to menstrual products, Kenya repealed added tax on sanitary pads and tampons back in 2004 to lower the price of these sanitary items.
The government has been setting aside funds to distribute free sanitary towels to teenage girls in school since 2011. However, reports say that the programme has seen implementation challenges with supplies often running out.