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Women in Pakistan sew sanitary pads to break period taboo for girls

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Woman uses sewing machine to make her own sanitary pads

Hajra Bibi, 35, received insults when she first started making the pads (Picture: Getty Images)

Women in rural Pakistan are stitching sanitary pads in hopes of aiding female hygiene and breaking period taboos.

Hajra Bibi, 35, started making the pads in Booni, a mountainous village in northwestern Pakistan, to support her family, as her husband is disabled and they have little income.

She is one of around 80 women trained to make the sanitary products by the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP), an NGO working with Unicef.

At first, her work resulted in insults from others living in the area, as menstruation carries a stigma of being shameful and unclean.

Traditionally, women in the village use rags and cloth to soak up their menstrual blood, but the lack of openness about the subject means hygiene standards can be low.

In this picture taken on May 18, 2019, Pakistani woman Hajra Bibi makes a sanitary pad with a sewing machine at her home in Booni village in Chitral. - Traditionally women have used rags and cloth to soak up their menstrual blood, but the stigma around periods and a lack of reproductive education means hygiene standards are poor and many contracted infections. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI / AFP) / TO GO WITH Pakistan-health-women-menstruation,FEATURE by Joris FIORITI and Ashraf KHANAAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images

She is one of 80 women working to end stigma around menstruation in Pakistan (Picture: Getty Images)

According to Bushra Ansari of AKRSP, many women are too ashamed to dry the cloths outside, and end up using them while they are still damp or wet.

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This can create a breeding ground for bacteria and quickly lead to infection.

While in some families, females share the same menstrual rags, which increases the risk of contracting urinary and reproductive tract infections.

Wassaf Sayed Kakakhail, a doctor from Booni noted that women are also told not to wash during their period as well.

She said: If there are three girls in the same family, they all use the same pieces of fabric.

In this picture taken on May 18, 2019, Pakistani woman Hajra Bibi holds a sanitary pad she is making with a sewing machine at her home in Booni village in Chitral. - Traditionally women have used rags and cloth to soak up their menstrual blood, but the stigma around periods and a lack of reproductive education means hygiene standards are poor and many contracted infections. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI / AFP) / TO GO WITH Pakistan-health-women-menstruation,FEATURE by Joris FIORITI and Ashraf KHANAAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images

The women were trained by the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (Picture: Getty Images)

Less than a fifth of women use sanitary pads in Pakistan, local charities estimate.

According to a 2017 Unicef survey, half the countrys young women hadnt heard of periods before they began them and at first believed they had a very serious illness or cancer.

The nation is currently ranked 148th out of 149 by the World Economic Forum for gender equality.

Ms Bibi hopes that by making the pads, girls in the village can talk about their periods, adding that she is fighting for the basic needs of women.

She continued: With this project, I have made pRead More – Source