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Caption:Pieces of old or worn loincloth, used by the majority of girls and women to manage their periods, especially those in rural areas or of modest means. 'During my periods, I use pieces of traditional loincloths to protect myself and prevent infections. I tried the cottons [sanitary pads] but they cause slight wounds on your body. So I prefer to use the pieces of loincloths.' Brigitte, 23, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, August 2018.
Credit:WaterAid/ Basile Ouedraogo
Usage Rights:(1) Images may be used for all purposes, globally, in perpetuity. Images may be used by third parties.
Size:9.54MB
5760 x 3840px
Interview:Interviewee details:

Alice, 29 years old, Ouagadougou

Interview:

“Currently, I use cotton [sanitary pads]. I started using cotton in 2014 when I came to Ouagadougou. But before 2014, when I was in the village I used pieces of worn loincloth. I had my first periods in 2006. At that time I was a pupil in class 4th in the village’s school. In the village I didn’t know about cotton. I had heard about it in class and from some friends but I didn’t know what it looked like. I had never seen one, so I used the pieces of my worn loincloth. That's what my mother taught me. I used to tear up my worn loincloth and use them to protect myself. When I arrived in Ouagadougou in 2014, I inquired with an aunt whose husband is a health worker. She took the cotton that she was using to show me and it was with her that I learned how to use it.

Since then, I use cotton. I buy them in the shops. Each pack costs 500 CFA francs (0,69 GBP) or 700 CFA francs (0,96 GBP) and in each pack, there are about ten cottons. I can buy those because I am working and earning money but in general I think that the cottons are expensive for girls who live in the villages or for pupils who do not work yet. If your parents are not aware and understanding they will not be able to give you money to buy the cottons.

Even if the cottons have a cost, I prefer them to pieces of loincloth, because the pieces of loincloth are not effective. The loincloths are not soft like cotton, so when you walk, it rubs your thighs and it hurts you. Also the loincloths are permeable. The menstrual blood can sometimes overflow, creating spots on your clothes. And when the little boys see that they can make fun of you. With the pieces of loincloth you have to pay attention to your movements because if it is not well fastened it can fall down. Before, when I was using pieces of cloth during my periods, I avoided going out. With the pieces of loincloth you can’t sit long. If you sit long, people know.

With cotton, I feel more comfortable. Cotton is good but the only issue is that it can run out and that you can’t afford to buy more. For me one pack per month is enough but I have friends who need to buy 2 packs per month because their menstrual blood flows a lot.”

Interviewee details:

Henriette, 17 years old, Ouagadougou

Interview:

“There are several types of cotton [sanitary pads] available in the shops. I use “Softcare”, which costs 500 CFA francs (0,69 GBP) per pack. When I buy a pack, there are about ten cottons in it. I calculate my periods and save a bit of my pocket money to buy them at the right time. My periods last 4 days in the month and every menstruating day, I use 2 or 3 cottons. When I finish using a cotton, and want to change, I throw it in the toilet. I live with my grandparents here in Ouagadougou. When I had my first periods it was my grandmother who explained to me what it was and gave me the money to buy cotton to wear. And then I learned with some friends how to use them well.”

Interviewee details:

Pascaline, 18 years old, Ouagadougou

Interview:

“ I protect myself with some hygienic cottons sold in the shops. The types of hygienic cotton, which I know are Vania, Softcare, Propre Dame. Every month I use 2 packs. I save money in my pennies to buy them. When I go to the shops to buy some and there are men in the shop, I feel embarrassed to say that I want cotton. Usually, when men are around, I go to another shop.”

Interviewee details:

Nadege, 19 years old, Ouagadougou

Interview:

“ I use Vania cotton. I buy it in the shops. My mother showed me the use of cotton. I feel comfortable with the cotton. The only disadvantage for me is that it is an artificial product. I mean it's not natural. I think you can also use traditional loincloths, if you have some at home but you must wash them before use. During my periods I don’t do many activities because my periods are painful.”

Interviewee details:

Brigitte, 23 years old, Ouagadougou

Interview:

“During my periods, I use pieces of traditional loincloths to protect myself and prevent infections. I tried the cottons [sanitary pads] but they are spicy like there is pepper in it. They cause slight wounds on your body. So I prefer to use the pieces of loincloths. However, I do not use all sorts of loincloth. I mostly use the traditional loincloths woven by the weavers because they are finer than simple manufactured loincloths. I cut them into a rectangular shape and bend them according to my size. It's my mother who showed me the use of traditional loincloths. She, herself, weaves traditional loincloths commonly called “Faso Danfani”. In my opinion, they are effective. It depends on the folds actually. Personally I don’t feel any difficulty when I fold them slightly. I prefer to use traditional loincloths instead of cottons sold in the shops.”

Interviewee details:

Sylvie, 19 years old, Ouagadougou

Interview:

“I use either the cottons sold in the shops or the pieces of cloth that I get by tearing off my worn loincloths. I prefer cotton because it is more hygienic and more effective but sometimes due to lack of money I am obliged to use the pieces of cloth. I find the price of cottons expensive because I don’t work. I am a pupil. So for me, if the price of cottons can be reduced it will help us because the pieces of loincloth are sometimes annoying. When you wear them, you must be careful in your movements. In addition, if they are badly washed, they can cause infections.”

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