Women forced to strip to show if they are on period at Kenyan factory

Women are forced to strip to show if they are on their period at Kenyan cheese factory after a worker threw a used sanitary towel in the wrong bin

  • A female manager forced the women to undress. She has since been suspended

Women working at a cheese factory in Kenya were forced to undress to show if they were on their period.

A female manager at Brown’s Food Company gathered female workers to find out which one of them had thrown a used sanitary towel in the wrong bin, and made them strip after no one confessed. 

She has been suspended pending an investigation and three people have been arrested for indecent assault charges, police in Limuru told local media.

In a statement Brown’s Food Company said: ‘As a result of the shocking incident at the company we have begun internal investigations to assess exactly what happen, why and how we can adequately reconcile with the employees who were affected by this distressing unilateral decision of the manger that were on site on the day of the incident. They were immediately suspended.

A female manager at at Brown’s Food Company gathered female workers to find out which one of them had thrown a used sanitary towel in the wrong bin

Senator Gloria Orwoba, who is an advocate for removing period shame, said she was told about the incident on Monday night during a ‘distress call’

Brown’s Food Company (pictured) said the manager was dismissed immediately after the incident became known

‘We are directly engaging with Senator Gloria Orwoba – who is known to champion Menstrual Hygiene Management as well as ending period shaming and period poverty in Kenya – to learn from her how best to implement a Menstrual Hygiene Management policy. We have been listening and we know we must do better.’

In a video posted online Senator Gloria Orwoba said she was told about the incident on Monday night during a ‘distress call’.

She said: ‘[A manager] had found a used sanitary towel in one of the bins, and from what I gather, that dustbin was not meant for the disposal of sanitary towels. [She] needed to find out who was on their period so that she could punish the person that threw the sanitary towel in that bin.’

Police said officers ‘conducted a thorough investigation and recorded statements from the victims before arresting three suspects,’ according to the BBC. 

They also claimed incidents similar to this one had previously taken place within companies in the Limuru area.

‘We have reliably gathered that the demeaning and shaming vice has been going on for a long time. I want to warn any such employers that justice will soon be served to all their victims,’ local police chief Philip Mwania said.

Period shaming is an increasingly tense topic in Kenya. 

In 2019, a 14-year-old girl took her own life after being humiliated in front of her class for having her period. 

Her mother said a teacher had called her ‘dirty’ for soiling her uniform and ordered her to leave the class in Kabiangek, west of the capital Nairobi.

‘She had nothing to use as a pad. When the blood stained her clothes, she was told to leave the classroom and stand outside,’ the mother was quoted as saying in Kenyan media.

READ MORE HERE: Furious protests in Kenya as schoolgirl, 14, kills herself ‘after being period-shamed in class by a teacher’ 

She said her daughter came home and told her mother what had happened, but then when she went to fetch water she took her own life.

In February this year, Senator Orwoba was told to leave parliament because she had a blood stain on her trousers. 

She noticed the mark before the session had started but ‘since I am always advocating against period shame, I thought I should go ahead and walk the talk,’ she said.

Some MPs, including another female senator, complained and said she was a ‘disgrace’ and was being disrespectful to others. 

Male senator Enoch Wambua said: ‘We have wives and daughters, and they go through these cycles, but it’s a matter to be managed personally without exposing it to other people. What Sen Gloria has done to this house is a disgrace, it is a lot of shame to this house. 

‘This must not be allowed to happen,’ he said according to the BBC. 

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