Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity.
Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life. It encompasses sexual activity, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. It is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and or relationships. It is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.
Sexual Rights critical to the realisation of sexual health include right to:
Like our WASH, our MHM shifts effects of promoting conspicuous consumption (i.e. keeping up with or outdoing your neighbour) from the poor (who are affected negatively by this) to you, their urbanised compatriots, and organisations/corporations – arguably, MHM is the main SRHR issue in developing countries.
We are sensitive to ‘shame’. Shame helps form and maintain social relationships, however, shame due to poverty is making it difficult for youth to access SRHR services that they need – they tease to shame each other about, and hide, their sexual health, sexuality and sexual rights. Contemporary psychosocial literature highlights that shame is a volatile and often harmful emotion, particularly in conditions of poverty. Shame’s negative psychological outcomes include: low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, anger and even suicide (Turner, 2000, 2009; Scheff, 1988, 2000).
Deliberately, we give the highest quality products e.g., Safepad™ in our MHM – giving low quality products to the poor harms their mental and social wellbeing, the same health condition that is to be improved .
Note that boys are involved in the MHM to reduce teasing. Note also that we widely publicise the exercise offline and online. Importantly, we distribute not to the underprivileged – we distribute Safepad™ as a means of managing toilets.
Each girl gets from us 2 Safepad™ packs for every four years in school – to stay in school, to reduce early pregnancy (a study found that 2 out of 3 girls in rural areas that have sanitary pads get the pads from their sex partners). Education develops their ability to understand issues of SRHR.
For the girls to use Safepad™ properly, we openly engage with them on issues of puberty and menarche (or the start of menstruation), fertility (why menstruation happens), contraception (for those who don’t believe in abstinence), and other aspects of sexual and reproductive health. We touch on child marriage and the risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections.
We distribute Safepad™ to avoid use of improvised materials such as improperly cleaned or scavenged cloth or other material such as newspaper, used disposable sanitary pads or even grass; which may cause reproductive tract infections, such as bacterial vaginosis or vulvovaginal candidiasis, which in turn can increase susceptibility to HIV infection.
Due to our MHM, girls will become aware of anaemia, for instance, as a major contributor to maternal morbidity, that it is associated with menorrhagia, or heavy periods. They will also learn about endometriosis, a menstrual disorder, that contributes to infertility. About dysmenorrhea, or painful menses, that may make them miss one or more days of school or work each month.
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Rural Water Supply Network is based in Switzerland
USA-based Menstrual Health hub convenes Global MH Community that RaHa is in.