Nang Seng Nom
A teenager, who always embarrasses menstruation, Sandar Lin scantily said, “She is terrified of menstruation”
Before and during menstruation, women may experience chest and breast pain, uterine pain, feeling sad or irritability, and some may want to be quietly alone.
However, Sandar Lin couldn’t care about her menstruation, pain and she also pretended not to notice bleeding and spotting.
She is a refugee because of the war between PDF and SAC, who live in Moebyae Township in southern Shan State. She expressed the hardships she was facing.
“There were 5 months that I arrived IDP camp. I live like normal when menstruation. No menstrual pad. I’m ashamed, but I can’t do nothing.”
She is deeply embarrassed when living together with many people in the IDP camp because there is no menstrual pad, and difficult to wash the bleed spotted on the clothes.
“I live without a menstrual pad. There is rare water to wash the dirty clothes. There is no soap, and wear it back again.”
Women soldiers who fight with SAC and women refugee faced tribulation like Sandar Lin, which is no menstrual pad.
Mu Emily, the spoken persons of Kayan women organization- KyWO said, “Women refugees faced water scarcity in this area. They can’t use menstrual pads and have poor hygiene.”
Nowadays, there is a civil war all over Burma, and people are fleeing their homes.
Women and children are the most in the refugees. There was no place to buy the menstrual pad in the refugee area.
Yoon Mi Ko, who fled to the jungle with three clothes after the coup, has no menstrual pad and no clothes. So, she faced hardship in training to fight the dictator.
She said, “I had three clothes when fleeing to the jungle. I tear off my clothes to use because no pad. But it is not enough to secure. I couldn’t pure my mind but I can’t wash again to clear”
She didn’t pay attention to the abdominal cramps of menstruation during heavy military training to resist the dictator. But she was a real embarrassment during military training without a menstrual pad.
“I tore off the clothes to use as a pad, but it was not comfortable due to leak. I think I must do something, So, I fold the plastic bag, put on the clothes, and then I test it. It is better than before”, Yoon Mi Ko said.
She said, “We tore our clothes to use as a pad, we are poor hygiene. We wash without soap. We don’t throw away after use and dry it in sun to use back.”
During faced with this tribulation, she remembered the memory that the menstrual pad was ready to use when she lived at her home.
Yoon Mi Ko and female soldiers were going through the menstrual cycle only with her Htamein and a Longyi given by PDF soldiers.
She said, “There is only a Htamein for our young women group in the jungle. It is only to use a bath-cloth. And then a soldier gave a longyi. We through these days with wearing and turning it again and again when bleeding and spotting”
Yoon Mi Ko has put aside her previous embarrassment. And she said, “I will never be afraid of anything after we face the worst.”
Women activists said that women need to take care of their mental health during their menstruation and they also get traumatic when hearing the sound of artillery fire.
KyWO spoken person Mu Emily said that they didn’t care and haven’t a function about the menstrual pad for refugee women.
There is no research on the health impact of refugee women. In the long term, they would be harmful to health, such as female genital infection, cervical cancer.
The refugee in Moe Byae, Daw Agen Lin (52) told her young experiences how they use the pieces of clothes to use in menstruation.
“In our time, we used pieces of clothes. I don’t know about the children can use pieces of cloth. I don’t think so. If we difficult to buy the pads, we should share knowledge to use the clothes like our young. If we don’t wash well, it can be harmful to our health.”
Daw Angel Lin said that she used old clothes in menstruation. She hidey dried her clothes because she is afraid to be seen by others when she washed and dried.
“I used the old piece of clothes. I didn’t wash in front of others. I was ashamed when dried it. So my health is not good when older. And I removed my uterus. I think it may be related.”
She said that menstruation is very important for women. If we can’t donate a pad, we should donate a new piece of clothes and the soap to wash when we are difficult to buy the menstrual pad.
Mu Emily said, “We should use clean clothes while no pad. If no clothes, need to wash normally for cleaning. And we need to connect with the social organization. I want to advise that request openly what they need and what happens and where is.
She said that it is not possible to say how long the war will last. The men should help like siblings and your children to the women who face menstruation. If you have money, you should buy the pad for them. If you have extra clothes, you should give them, etc.
A teenager, Sandar Lin expressed her want, “I can’t buy a pad. If I do nothing, it is difficult to wash. Everything is hard. If you can help, help it. I want to end this war soon.”