“Bitten By Shyness”: Menstrual Hygiene Management, Sanitation, and the Quest for Privacy in South Africa

Fiona Scorgie, Jennifer Foster, Jonathan Stadler, Thokozile Phiri, Laura Hoppenjans, Helen Rees, Nancy Muller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Little is known about how menstruation is managed in low-income settings and whether existing sanitation systems meet women’s needs. Using the ‘Photovoice’ method with 21 women in participatory workshops and in-depth interviews, we collected data on menstrual hygiene management in three sites in Durban, South Africa. All women reported using disposable sanitary pads. Although they were aware that disposable pads were nonbiodegradable, incompatible with waterborne flush systems, and fill up pit latrines, they had little experience with reusable products. Considerable energy was devoted to concealing and containing ‘menstrual waste,’ and women expressed concern about inadequate privacy during menstruation. All sites lacked discreet disposal options and reliable water access, while outdoor sanitation facilities were considered unsafe. Findings highlight the need for advocacy to improve safety and privacy of facilities for women in this setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-176
Number of pages16
JournalMedical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness
Volume35
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Low-income settings
  • South Africa
  • menstrual hygiene products
  • privacy
  • sanitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health (social science)
  • Anthropology

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