Why this Bangladeshi father is glad he learned to talk to his daughters about menstruation

Story: Rimi Chakma, Master Trainer at Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha (BNPS), Bangladesh

Priyo Sankar took part in various sessions organised by the Our Lives, Our Health, Our Futures programme. He learned vital information about the health of his daughters.

Girls in Khagrachari, Bangladesh, during a session organised as part of the Our Lives, Our Health, Our Futures programme.

Priyo Sankar Chakma (42) lives with his wife and two daughters in the village of Hubbang Tega in Bangladesh and makes his living from farming. Being illiterate himself, he is very proud that his daughters, age 14 and 10, attend school and are currently in classes 8 and 5. The girls are also members of the Hubbang Bajar Para Girls Club, along with other girls from the village. This girls club (one of 842 in the region) is one of the outcomes of Simavi's Our Lives, Our Health, Our Futures programme funded by the EU. This programme promotes gender equality and empowers women and girls in an area of conflict and patriarchal social structures.

Knowledge of menstruation and concerns over abdominal pain

As a father, Priyo Sankar had the opportunity to participate in several sessions of the girls' club. One of these sessions was about menstruation. "I learned that menstruation is a normal process for a woman, that it comes back every month and that it is very important to stay neat and clean and eat healthy during menstruation. In addition, I learned that abdominal pain is normal during menstruation, but sometimes the pain can become extreme with excessive bleeding. If that happens, it is necessary to contact the health clinic and consult with a healthcare professional."

"My oldest daughter is often absent from school five to six days a month because of abdominal pain. I thought this was normal and my wife never said anything about it." Due to the sessions he took at the girls’ club, he realised that his oldest daughter could have serious health problems if her abdominal pain was so severe. "So I discussed this with my wife and asked my oldest daughter about her condition. She told me, 'Yes, father, I sometimes feel extreme pain in my abdomen during my period. That is why I am often absent from school."

Misconceptions and superstitions debunked

After listening to his daughter, he immediately took her to a health centre and consulted with the doctor here about her condition. "All these years I thought that menstruation was something private for women and that it did not need to be discussed with men. That drying washed pads should be done out of sight and that if a man touches a woman's menstrual products, it brings bad luck. But after the menstruation sessions at the girls' club, I realised that these beliefs are misconceptions and superstitions."

After consulting with a healthcare worker, Priyo Sankar obtained medicine for his eldest daughter from the clinic. "I also bought healthy and nutritious food for my daughter. After a few days, her stomach pain receded and she felt good about her health. This was a great experience and I have learned many new things about menstruation."

"I love my two daughters very much. I didn't get the chance to study when I was very young. But I want my daughters to be well educated and have a good and prosperous life in the future. So I encourage them to study hard and talk to me when there are physical problems."

Esther Oeganda

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