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Ending Violence Against Women and Girls through Menstrual Health Management Education in Oinlasi Village, West Timor.

The number of sexual violence against children and women in Timor Tengah Selatan Regency is increasing compared to the previous year (2019), by 49 percent in 2020. One of the areas in Timor Tengah Selatan Regency that needs attention is Oinlasi Village where cases of abortion, child abuse, and cases of violence against women still occur. This condition has attracted FMCH Indonesia’s attention to carry out DfG activities not only to educate about menstrual health management but also to raise awareness to end violence against women and girls.

Violence against women and girls has many dimensions, both physical and psychological. One of example that is a common occurrence is bullying or teasing to girls because of their menstruation status. Lack of access to menstrual products, private toilets, and spare clothing in case of leaks create difficulties for female students. Girls are at risk of experiencing psychological abuse and ridicule from male classmates when attending school while menstruating, especially when they leak. Furthermore, there is a direct link between violence against women and inadequate sanitation; poor access to public toilet facilities due to distance/proximity (too far away or too few) and/or poor design (dimly lit or isolated) puts women at risk of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. Moreover, due to stigma, shame and fear, girls and women go to the toilet at night for more privacy, even further increasing the risk for violence, harassment, sexual assault, and exploitation.

The activity begins by coordinating with the Oinlasi Village Head and village officials, where it is recommended to carry out activities in RT 06, Dusun 4, Oinlasi Village, South Mollo District. Based on observation and recommendation, the location is feasible to be implemented because the availability of water is sufficient with the distance to the water source approximately 15-20 minutes from springs and rivers. The condition of access to sanitary napkins is quite difficult due to the low economic condition of the community so that some teenagers do not have the money to buy sanitary napkins. There are even teenagers who work as laundry workers to be able to buy their needs every month, including menstrual products. Most of the women also have a low level of education due to financial constraints and child marriage. Lack of information about menstruation among girls, especially that menstruation is a sign that girls can physically become pregnant, could possibly trigger high rate of child marriage. In addition, the high costs of menstrual health management (MHM) products are another connection of early marriage to MHM, thus there is a higher risk of early marriage as parents want to pass on the financial responsibility of taking care of the girls to the their husband.

On 2 February 2022, Days for Girls (DfG) activity was held with a total of 60 participants, including Oinlasi Village staff. A total of 55 DfG packages were distributed for women aged 11-18 years. After participants received the material on menstrual health management and violence against women and girls, they were also taught on how to use the DFG kit and practice together. “We are very grateful to FMCH Indonesia for the donation of DfG packages received by the adolescent girls and women in our village,” said the Head of Dusun 4, Mr. Elkana Sabat. Participants were very interested and enthusiastic in participating in Days for Girls (DFG) activities. The participants felt that the event not only helped them to learn about menstrual health management and violence against women, but also helped to improve their access to menstrual products. The village chief also hopes to carry out this outreach activities in other areas of Oinlasi Village in the future.

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