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Zimbabwe Girls Resort To Cow Dung For Sanitary Pads

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Girls in rural Zimbabwe are forced to use cow dung for sanitary wear as inflation hits feminine hygiene products.

Constance Dimingo, 19, wriggles in her wheelchair as she tries to remember the last time, she used a sanitary pad. “I last wore a pad before my mother died last year,” she laments.

A congenital physical disability compounded by poverty has made a natural monthly cycle a period of shame.

“Now, I have to use anything I can find, cow dung, leaves, newspapers and clothes, to stop the blood from leaking. I wish my mother was still alive to buy me pads and medication for my menstrual pain,” she concludes.

Constance is one of the 72% of girls located in the rural town of Domboshava, 30 km north of the capital Harare who do not have access to commercial sanitary wear, according to a study by SNV Netherlands Development Organisation in Zimbabwe.

For an equivalent of US$2, sanitary pads are beyond reach for most of the country’s 3 million menstruating girls, who live below the poverty datum line.

Constance, her epileptic sister and three other girls rely completely on the assistance of their visually impaired grandmother to manage their menstrual hygiene during that time of the month.

Six females, three disabilities and one bloody mess.

“Sanitary pads are a luxury I cannot afford for my girls,” grandmother Vhene Gumedhe shares, explaining how the cow dung process works.

“I take the dung, mould it and leave it to dry so that it easily absorbs the blood. The girls do not put the cow pattie directly on the skin. I wrap many clothes over it to avoid itching when placed on the underwear. Then I show them how to close their private parts to block the bleeding.”

She concludes, “The girls have heavy flows with cycles that typically last six days. We prefer this method because cow patties soak up a lot of blood. Once soaked, we dispose of it privately by burying it in the ground. Our Shona culture does not allow that men see such things.”

This family’s story mirrors that of millions of impoverished women around the Southern African nation who have resorted to desperate methods to manage their periods.

According to the Ministry of Women and Youth Affairs, 67% of girls miss school during menstruation due to a lack of access to sanitary products and clean sanitation facilities. Girls with disabilities usually drop out of school altogether, as was the case with Constance.

Apart from missing school, health experts say these methods are breeding grounds for salmonella, E. Coli and several bacteria that can result in reproductive health infections.

“The girls complain of itching and burning sensations in the vagina. When examined at the hospitals, we notice yeast infections, urogenital tract infections and early signs of cervical cancer due to insertion in the vaginal tract.” shares Theresa Nkhoma, Community Childcare Worker under the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.

“We are advocating for the ladies to receive sewing machines in the villages so they can learn to make reusable pads.” the health worker proposes.

The government of Zimbabwe has made efforts to ease the situation by scrapping taxes on all sanitary products. But period poverty is being exacerbated by inflation standing at over 191.6%, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency.

Families have to choose between purchasing feminine hygiene products and buying food, with most settling on the latter.

Living on less than a dollar a day, pads remain a frill for Constance and her sisters who continue to bear the brunt of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis.

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AU official calls out Germany over leopard jibe that left some offended

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A Leopard 2 tank is pictured during a demonstration event held for the media by the German Bundeswehr in Munster near Hannover, Germany, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011. - Copyright © africanews Michael Sohn/AP2011

Germany apologized on Thursday (Jan. 26) for using a leopard emoji in a tweet refering to the Russian Foreign Minister’s visit to Africa. The post that was regarded as offensive by some users was called out by the spokeswoman for the African Union chairman Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat.

The German foreign ministry attempted to poke fun at Russia’s top diplomat during his tour of Africa when it tweeted that he wasn’t there looking for leopards, but using the trip to try and justify Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The tweet, and the leopard emoji the foreign ministry used on its official account, apparently sought to play off Germany’s decision to send some of its advanced Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine to back its military fight off Russian forces.

An African Union official questioned the use of emoji, pointing it could be interpreted as the continent being portrayed once again as only about wild animals.

Ebba Kalondo, the spokeswoman for AU Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, tweeted back to the German government account questioning if Africa, its people and its wildlife was “just a joke to you?”

“Foreign policy is not a joke nor should it be used to score cheap geopolitical points by illustrating an entire Continent with colonial tropes,” Kalondo wrote in a follow-up tweet.

The German foreign ministry apologized and said that the tweet wasn’t meant to offend, but rather “to call out the lies that Russia uses to justify its imperialist war of aggression against Ukraine.”

Lavrov has visited South Africa, Eswatini, Angola and Eritrea this week, where he has repeated his claims that the United States and its Western allies are using Ukraine as a tool in a “hybrid war” against Russia.

Many African nations hold historical ties with Moscow. South Africa was one of several to abstain from a U.N. vote last year condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Eritrea voted against the resolution alongside Russia, Belarus, North Korea and Syria.

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Bomb injures at least a dozen people near a market in north-eastern DR Congo

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Congolese Defense Forces soldiers inspect the scene of an attack near the town of Oicha, 30 kms (20 miles) from Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, Friday July 23, 2021.

A bomb exploded at a market in eastern Congo on Wednesday (Jan. 25), injuring at least a dozen people, authorities said.

An unknown person detonated a bomb inside a bag in North Kivu’s Beni town, said Tharcisse Katembo, a local official.

“Damage was documented (and) at least 12 people were injured. They were injured in the lower limbs, others in their upper limbs and others were hit in the head,” he told reporters in Beni.

The victims were taken to the hospital and an investigation was underway, Katembo said.

No one claimed responsibility for the bomb. However, attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces, which is believed to be linked with the Islamic State extremist movement, have been increasing in North Kivu, according to the United Nations.

Deadly violence

Earlier this month, at least 14 people were killed and dozens injured in an attack on a church in Kasindi town, which was claimed by Islamic State. It said in its Aamaq news outlet that it planted an explosive device inside the church and detonated it while people were praying.

Since April, attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces have killed at least 370 civilians, and the group has abducted several hundred more, including a significant number of children, the U.N. says.

The explosion Wednesday (Jan. 25) occurred in a local market next to a cassava mill, witnesses said.

Danny Syaghuswa, 16, said he was sitting on his motorcycle when a man in a striped shirt put a small bag behind a door, saying he would come back for it, according to an interview with local reporters heard by The Associated Press. “Less than five minutes after he left the bomb exploded,” Syaghuswa said.

Images of the attack circulating on chat groups show people lying on the floor. One woman in blood-stained clothes was carrying a small child.

Violence has wracked eastern Congo for decades as more than 120 armed groups and self-defense militias fight for land and power. Nearly 6 million people are internally displaced, and hundreds of thousands are facing extreme food insecurity, according to the United Nations.

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Somalia: Al-Shabaab terrorists storm mayor’s office, killing six

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Al-Shabaab terrorists set off a bomb and stormed a government building in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.  The Al-Qaeda-backed terror group has stepped up bombings in the country.

At least six people were killed on Sunday in an attack by Al Shabaab militants at the mayor’s office in central Mogadishu, police said.

A suicide bomber set off a huge blast that tore through building near the office complex with gunfire erupting afterwards, Somali police spokesman Sadik Dudishe said at the end of the four-hour siege.

“All the six attackers died. Five of them during the fire exchange with the security forces and one of them detonated himself,” Dudishe told reporters.

“Six civilians also died during the attack and the situation is back to normal.” All the staffers at the mayor’s office were rescued, the police added.

Al 0Shabaab, a militant group allied with Al Qaeda claimed, responsibility for the attack via its communication channels, saying its fighters “made their way inside the targeted building after killing the security guards.” Witnesses said the initial explosion damaged nearby buildings and gunfire could be heard in the vicinity of the mayor’s office.

The area was quickly cordoned off by security officers, a witness who runs a business near the offices said.

Another witness, Omar Nur, said he was inside a nearby mall when the explosion went off and “was lucky to have escaped safely.” The Al Shabaab militants have been waging a bloody insurgency against the frail internationally backed central government for 15 years, carrying out attacks both in Somalia and neighbouring countries.

The latest attack comes days after seven soldiers were killed on Friday at a military camp in Galcad, a town in central Somalia about 375 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu. The US military said the attack — in the Somali town retaken by the army this week — involved more than 100 Al Shabaab jihadists.

“The combined actions by partner forces on the ground and the collective self-defence strike is estimated to have resulted in three destroyed vehicles and approximately thirty Al Shabaab terrorists killed” the US military command for Africa (AFRICOM) said in a statement.

Source: Dawn

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