By Staff Reporter
GIRLS as young as eleven are using contraceptives to stop mensuration because they can’t afford to buy sanitary pads, legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga has said.
The MP said this came out during recent public hearings on health issues in the country and government’s adherence to its user fees policy in hospitals.
She chairs the parliamentary portfolio committee on women and youth affairs.
Speaking to journalists about the preliminary findings of the meetings, Mushonga said her committee was shocked to learn that girls aged 11 and 12 were using contraceptives because they cannot afford to buy sanitary wear.
“It was very shocking after the public hearings when young girls came to me and said we are using contraceptives, but we are not sexually active,” she said in Harare this past Tuesday.
“Young girls are using contraceptives because they can’t afford sanitary wear. They said if I buy one for a dollar in the streets, I know I am set for a month.”
She added, “They said this is better than for them to go and buy sanitary pads or cotton wool which cost between $6 and $7.”
“So, we have eleven and twelve-year-olds now on contraceptives, not because they are actually sexually active but just to stop themselves from going on menstrual periods.
“I didn’t know that this is the level we have gone because that speaks to what is going to happen in their entire life around their sexual and reproductive health.”
Mushonga is on record for pleading with the ministry of finance to remove import duty on sanitary pads arguing that most women struggle every month to buy them because of the cost.
At one parliamentary sitting, Mushonga caused stir when she brought sanitary pads in protest against their high prices and import duty.