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Breaking the Silence: Ruku Mia Works to Improve Menstrual Hygiene


Ruku Mia during his courtyard session on menstrual hygiene | Photo credit: Elias Mahmood/CARE

Menstruation is still stigmatized in Bangladesh. It's vital to women's and girls' sexual and reproductive health, yet it rarely gets the attention it deserves. A report says that 97% of non-pad-using women get cervical infections, which can cause infertility and cancer (Tajmim, 2022). The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics' 2018 National Hygiene Survey found that 29% of menstruation women use sanitary pads, up from 14% in 2014 (Afiaz & Biswas, 2021). Most rural Bangladeshi women (79.8%) use traditional menstrual hygiene products instead of sanitary napkins.

Ruku Mia (26) is a Blue Star Provider who lives in Pathantola village of Baniachang Upazila, Habiganj. He is also renowned as the village doctor in his community. He visits patients at their homes and in his pharmacy located in a nearby bazaar. He not only treats patients but also creates awareness among the community, especially the women and girls. Ruku Mia attends courtyard sessions with women and adolescent girls to make them aware of health hygiene and nutrition. He emphasizes growth monitoring and promotion of children under five, ANC, PNC, and, most importantly, menstrual hygiene.

In the rural context, Pathantola village is no exception from other villages of the country in terms of sanitary napkin use. The rate of sanitary pads using is poor due to lack of awareness, shyness to buy from store, shyness to carry and poor economic conditions. In this country, a daughter cannot ask her father, and a sister cannot ask her brother to buy sanitary pads for her!

Ruku Mia works to break the silence; in his courtyard sessions, he speaks about the importance of using sanitary pads and the consequences of using unhealthy clothes and diet during menstrual periods. During the session, he also sells hygiene products as women still feel shy buying from the store.

“It was not easy to speak about menstrual hygiene among the women and adolescent girls being a man in the rural context, but I am happy as a known person they have taken it easy and buying sanitary pads from me.”-Ruku Mia

Ruku Mia is a Local Service Provider of SHOUHARDO III Plus Activity who is being facilitated by the Activity for five years and made his journey easy in a craggy way.

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