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Caption:Lepera Joyce, 23, uses cow ghee to clean the goatskin skirt. 'I use this goatskin skirt because it’s always available; it’s our traditional sanitary pad.' Nakapiripirt District, Karamoja Region, Uganda, September 2018.
Credit:WaterAid/ James Kiyimba
Usage Rights:(1) Images may be used for all purposes, globally, in perpetuity. Images may be used by third parties.
Size:14.0MB
3840 x 5760px
Key Information:Location: Ariamaoi village, Nabiratuk Sub County, Nakapiripirt District, Karamoja Region, Uganda
Local Partner: Welthungerhilfe
Donor: The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust through Carter Centre
Project code:
Project Status: Post-intervention
Interview:Pull-out quote:

“I use this goatskin skirt because it’s always available; it’s our traditional sanitary pad.”

Interview details:

Lepera Joyce, 23, from Nakapiripirt District, Karamoja Region, Uganda.

Interview:

“My name is Lepera Joyce, I am 23 years old and I live in Nabiratuk Sub County, Nakapiripirt District, Karamoja Region, Uganda. I started menstruating when I was about 14 years old. Since that time my favourite material for managing my periods has always been a goatskin.

Our village is a pastoralist community; we have many cattle, goats and sheep. After slaughtering them, we keep the skins for use as bedding, clothing and also for managing periods.

I have this special skirt made out of goat’s skin that I wear during my period. The skirt is made in such a way that it has a thick folded bottom ending, which we locally call “ Abwo” – the tail of the skirt.

When I have my period I wear this skirt, I find a comfortable place to sit, I fold the tail of the skirt “Abwo” in between my thighs and wait for blood to drain in the tail of the skirt.

I use this goatskin skirt because it’s always available; it’s our traditional sanitary pad. I don’t pay anyone to use the skin, other pads are expensive, even if my skirt gets old, I make another one since we have many goats. My grandmother taught me how to make and use the goatskin skirt during menstruation.

Even now my four year-old daughter Angella has her own skin skirt, she has to get used to wearing the skirt.

When the blood flow stops, I clean my goatskin skirt with cow ghee. I look for a private place, probably inside a hut that’s where cleaning takes place because no one is supposed to look at your blood.

The process of cleaning the goatskin skirt involves smearing cow ghee in all the areas with blood - on the side of the goatskin without fur - this is the part that absorbs blood. I do the smearing with bare hands since the blood is mine. I keep squeezing the blood out of the skin, it’s like I am washing clothes, through this process all blood is removed from the goatskin skirt.

I am happy and comfortable wearing the goatskin skirt during menstruation because it’s cost effective and easy to clean – I just have to use ghee only. After using ghee to clean, I don’t even need to dry it in the sunshine.

Once I bought a pack of sanitary pads from the shop but I did not like them because if one has heavy blood flow she can use more than three pads in a day yet they are expensive. Also they are small, they do not absorb all blood, yet the goatskin skirt works for the whole day.

There are no specific taboos associated with using the goatskin skirt during menstruation but in our culture we have some taboos around menstruation: menstruating women are not allowed to milk cows or even cross the kraal due to fear of cows dying or getting stolen.

During menstruation I stay home all the time, because I am considered unclean. I usually take three days and after I am very free to do all my duties including milking cows.

In case I have blood flows at night, when I am in my bed, I don’t use the skirt. This time I use a small soft skin from a calf.

Another alternative is using four pairs of pants. I fold one pair of pants in a shape of a pad to absorb blood and then wear the other three pants to prevent blood flow.

When I am on my period I am always shy and I fear to move outside my home. My biggest fear is if my skirt falls off and people get to know that I am on my period.”

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