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BLOOD BRoTHERS

THE MOVEMENT TO DESTIGMATIZE MENSTRUATION IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD HAS ADDED A CRUCIAL ALLY: MEN
WORLD CUP: Joshua Omanya, center, is an educator with The Cup program who teaches boys in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, about menstruation and gender equality.
PREVIOUS SPREAD: MARTIN LÖF

GANGA GAUTAM STOOD AT THE BACK OF A HIGH SCHOOL CLASSROOM IN KATHMANDU, NEPAL, HELPLESSLY WATCHING AS A TEENAGE GIRL STARTED BLEEDING.

Gautam, a professor of English education at Tribhuvan University, was observing one of his students teach a class two years ago. Three girls were sitting on a bench next to him, and one of them was clearly in distress. “I noticed that she was menstruating. The blood was coming,” he says. “She wasn’t prepared. She didn’t have a pad, and there was a male teacher teaching.” Gautam saw the young girl open her pen and drip ink over the blood in an effort to hide it.

As soon as class ended, she placed a piece of paper over the red stain and ran out. He never saw her in school again. “That happened many times,” he says. “I saw so many girls bleeding in classrooms and panicking. They leave the classroom and never come back. That just killed me.”

Around the world, girls and women miss classes, drop out of school and fail to reach their full potential because of a natural biological process: menstruation. In the U.S., women are regularly the butt of a bad joke—“Don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die”—or worse, they are homeless or poor or incarcerated and don’t have access to the products they need to manage their periods. But in developing countries, the stakes are even higher: Many girls grow up in communities where menstruation is shrouded in shame and stigma, misinformation is rampant and clean menstrual supplies are scarce.

Half of girls in Pakistan and Ethiopia did not even know what menstruation was before getting their period for the first time. “They’re shocked and frightened and worried they’re dying or something terrible is happening,” says Jane Bevan, a UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) specialist in Ethiopia. “And many men consider blood a sign that their teenage daughters are having sex. Instead of giving support, they castigate [their daughters] for bleeding.”

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GOING NUCLEAR Is Trump willing to anger Beijing and go after the Chinese companies supplying North Korea’s nuclear program? Can he really stop the ten Chinese companies that are currently supplying North Korea?
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