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234 Female Students Went Missing in Nigeria, and the Media Has Barely Covered It

thepoliticalfreakshow:

The news: South Korea’s tragic ferry disaster has gripped international headlines for the past week as the world watched with bated breath to find out what happened. Though 159 bodies have been discovered by divers, another 143 still remain missing — and families and loved ones are hoping against hope that they are somehow still alive.

But on the other side of the world, 234 schoolgirls in Nigeria, ages 16 to 18, wereabducted two days before the South Korean incident. Armed men broke into a school in the northeastern city of Chibok, shot the guards and took the girls away while they were taking a physics exam. The attack has been linked to Boko Haram, a jihadist affiliate of al-Qaida.

So why haven’t we heard about it? Simply put, because the world has very different views on South Korea and Nigeria. One is among the richest countries in the world and a powerful Western ally with a high quality of life and strong international presence. The other is in Africa, where, you know, these things happen all the time — or so we’re led to believe.

"In Nigeria, the mass abduction of schoolgirls isn’t shocking," CNN claims. “No one knows where the missing girls are. And even more surprising, no one’s particularly shocked.”

Image Credit: Al-Jazeera

But that’s not true. Boko Haram, which is Hausa for “Western education is sinful,” is against the education of girls. Girls have been abducted in the past to serve as cooks or sex slaves — but a kidnapping of this size is unprecedented.

And despite what CNN might think, people aren’t simply giving up on the girls. Desperate family members and town residents have gone on the search, combing the Sambisa Forest, a known terrorist hangout, on motorcycles. The search parties have so far had some success, uncovering traces of the girls.

The government is not helping. According to the school, about 43 girls have already escaped their captors — no thanks to the authorities. ”None of these girls were rescued by the military; they managed to escape on their own from their abductors,” said schoolmaster Asabe Kwambura.

As recently as Monday, education authorities claimed that only 85 girls have gone missing, despite the families’ insistence that 234 were taken. The military even claimed at one point that they rescued all but eight girls — which they immediately retracted the following day.

Nigerian security officials insist they are in ”hot pursuit” of the abductors, but they’ve yet to find a single girl. ”It’s alarming that more than a week after these girls were abducted, there are not any concrete steps to get them back,” said Human Rights Watch’s Nigeria researcher Mausi Segun.

It’s a dangerous environment. Boko Haram has been on a rampage in recent months and on the same day as the girls’ abduction, the group claimed responsibility for a bombing in Abuja that killed 75. The terrorist group, which wants to establish an extremist Islamist state in northeastern Nigeria, has alreadykilled over 1,500 people this year.

But that does not mean we should look the other way when a tragedy like this takes place.

"The South Korean story has unfolded on camera, in a first-world country with every facility for news reporting. In contrast, the young Nigerians have vanished into the darkness of a dangerous world," Ann Perkins writes in the Guardian. "Nigeria is complex and messy and unfamiliar. It is easy to feel that what happens there is not real in the way that what happens on camera in South Korea is real."

The ugly truth is that when young lives are similarly at stake, we are more shocked when the danger takes place in a country that is considered stable and affluent — and less so in a country where violent insurgents are trying to take over.

But the media has a responsibility to report the truth rather than ignoring a story because it sounds familiar. It’s easy to become desensitized to stories coming out of a conflict-ridden region, but that doesn’t mean these human lives are worth any less.

Source: Eileen Shim for Policy Mic

heterophobicgoat:

stupidandreckless:

NOOOO NO NO NONO FUCK FUCK  FUCKIG CBS IS TELLING WOMEN NOT TO REPORT SEXUAL HARASSMENT BECAUSE IT WILL “DAMAGE THEIR CAREERS” and “HARASSMENT IS AN UNFORTUNATE PART OF CLIMBING THE LADDER” I AM SO ANGRY THEY ARE LITERALLY TURNING SEXUAL HARASSMENT INTO A NORM THIS IS NOT OKAY

This is an actual article and I’m still having a hard time believing it’s real.

smilingsiarra:

sailorhitler:

i-am-sick-of-your-tattoos:

Fuck all the suicide hotlines and shit for a second.
Reblog this just in case; you never know who might need it.

where was this when my dog was dying ):

this could save a loved one.

smilingsiarra:

sailorhitler:

i-am-sick-of-your-tattoos:

Fuck all the suicide hotlines and shit for a second.

Reblog this just in case; you never know who might need it.

where was this when my dog was dying ):

this could save a loved one.

rufftoon:

isaia:

terribaeddel-magpie:

ladymargo:

Dear Tumblr,
I just got around to seeing this movie, despite the fact that it did not get a wide-release.
Find it and watch it.
Believe me when I say, this film is in the same league of sci-fi/speculative film classics as Bladerunner and Children of Men.
This.
Movie.
Should have a HUGE fandom.
It deals with issues like class, caste-systems, oppression, and the nature of humanity in a way mainstream films like The Hunger Games never could.
Let me tell you a story about the film-maker Joon-Ho Bong. Some years back, I had the privilege of attending a screening of one his films and the man happened to be there. At that time, he’d already gotten some notice for making The Host, another awesome film that allegorizes heavy issues in humanity.
So, he does the q&a at the end and someone asks him why he’s never produced a Hollywood movie.
…And he says, paraphrasing; that Hollywood would never let him make the kind of movies he’d like.  He’d have to hire an all-white cast and the actors would have to fit a certain aesthetic. They couldn’t be non-white, older than twenty-five, or non-thin…especially actresses.
He said, it’s not worth selling out, when he can make the kinds of movies he wants in South Korea.
…And then he makes this.
I’d love to spoil it for you, but suffice it say it was, as all good speculative sci-fi is, very effecting for me.
Again, I beg you PLEASE SEE THIS MOVIE.
And if you need more convincing??
Your faves are in it:  Octavia Spencer aka the above flawless actress in the poster, Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Ed Harris and the father/daughter pair from The Host, Kang-So Hung and Ah-Sung Ko (which had me thinking AU!).
Now, I shall commence spamming my tumblr with Snowpiercer reblogs…
Apologies ahead of time.

mmm the host was great i’d love to see this.

OHMY GOD!!?

Snowpiercer has been on my radar for a little while now, and I do hope to catch it when it comes out, limited release or not. The Host was a really fun film.
Here’s to adding Snowpiercer on other people’s radar.
http://youtu.be/r6UmqNuMdY4
(trivia: the movie is based on a french graphic novel called “Transperceneige”)

rufftoon:

isaia:

terribaeddel-magpie:

ladymargo:

Dear Tumblr,

I just got around to seeing this movie, despite the fact that it did not get a wide-release.

Find it and watch it.

Believe me when I say, this film is in the same league of sci-fi/speculative film classics as Bladerunner and Children of Men.

This.

Movie.

Should have a HUGE fandom.

It deals with issues like class, caste-systems, oppression, and the nature of humanity in a way mainstream films like The Hunger Games never could.

Let me tell you a story about the film-maker Joon-Ho Bong. Some years back, I had the privilege of attending a screening of one his films and the man happened to be there. At that time, he’d already gotten some notice for making The Host, another awesome film that allegorizes heavy issues in humanity.

So, he does the q&a at the end and someone asks him why he’s never produced a Hollywood movie.

…And he says, paraphrasing; that Hollywood would never let him make the kind of movies he’d like.  He’d have to hire an all-white cast and the actors would have to fit a certain aesthetic. They couldn’t be non-white, older than twenty-five, or non-thin…especially actresses.

He said, it’s not worth selling out, when he can make the kinds of movies he wants in South Korea.

…And then he makes this.

I’d love to spoil it for you, but suffice it say it was, as all good speculative sci-fi is, very effecting for me.

Again, I beg you PLEASE SEE THIS MOVIE.

And if you need more convincing??

Your faves are in it:  Octavia Spencer aka the above flawless actress in the poster, Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Ed Harris and the father/daughter pair from The Host, Kang-So Hung and Ah-Sung Ko (which had me thinking AU!).

Now, I shall commence spamming my tumblr with Snowpiercer reblogs…

Apologies ahead of time.

mmm the host was great i’d love to see this.

OH
MY GOD!!?

Snowpiercer has been on my radar for a little while now, and I do hope to catch it when it comes out, limited release or not. The Host was a really fun film.

Here’s to adding Snowpiercer on other people’s radar.

http://youtu.be/r6UmqNuMdY4

(trivia: the movie is based on a french graphic novel called “Transperceneige”)

isaia:

hellorenee:

"While women in precolonial Philippines were often designated to the venerable position of the babaylan, it was not an uncommon occurrence for them to pick up arms and become warriors.”
- Perry Gil S. Mallari, The Filipina as Ritualistic and Warrior

Photograph source??? This is beautiful!

isaia:

hellorenee:

"While women in precolonial Philippines were often designated to the venerable position of the babaylan, it was not an uncommon occurrence for them to pick up arms and become warriors.”

- Perry Gil S. Mallari, The Filipina as Ritualistic and Warrior

Photograph source??? This is beautiful!

zinge:

feministballerina:

malonetaylor:

Did you know? It’s your RIGHT to access reproductive healthcare without being intimidated or terrorized.

People need to see this. 

It is illegal to willingly harass and intimidate a person on purpose, even if you are doing it outside of an abortion clinic.  Remember this, pro-lifers.  You can and will be charged. <3

zinge:

feministballerina:

malonetaylor:

Did you know? It’s your RIGHT to access reproductive healthcare without being intimidated or terrorized.

People need to see this. 

It is illegal to willingly harass and intimidate a person on purpose, even if you are doing it outside of an abortion clinic.  Remember this, pro-lifers.  You can and will be charged. <3

zeramato:

Students who still have a lot ahead of them. Students like me, who still have dreams, goals, and students who still aim for achievements. But because of this tragedy, it all faded away. 

I bow and salute to the brave students who saved the lives of others and sacrificed themselves. They are heroes. They are people who deserves a lot better than awards. They deserve to be in Heaven, a place full of happiness and there will be no more sufferings. I also pray for the lives of the family and the people involved in this accident and specially the souls of these heroes.

I hope that the students who were saved by these mighty students will live their lives to the fullest, achieve their dreams and goals and love their family more. I also wish that they will live being inspired by the heroes who saved their lives. Please do so.

And for the captain, my middle finger salutes you. Live well. In guilt. Thank you.

#PrayForSouthKorea

sparklefairydust:

askthegrandhighboob:

fullofsinfullust:

zzazu:

trenzalord:

geometricdeathtrap:

pugsies:

PLEASE READ. WILL NOT HURT TO AND FORWARD. Kids are putting Drano, tin foil, and a little water in plastic drink bottles and capping it up - leaving it on lawns, in mail boxes, in gardens, on driveways etc. just waiting for you to pick it up intending to put it in the rubbish, but you’ll never make it!!!
If the bottle is picked up, and the bottle is shaken even just a little - in about 30 seconds or less it builds up enough gas which then explodes with enough force to remove some your extremities. The liquid that comes out is boiling hot as well. Don’t pick up any plastic bottles that may be lying in your yards or in the gutter, etc. Pay attention to this. A plastic bottle with a cap. A little Drano. A little water. A small piece of foil. Disturb it by moving it; and BOOM!! No fingers left and other serious effects to your face, eyes, etc. Please ensure that everyone that may not have email access are also informed of this. 
Snopes confirms.

I’ve dealt with these before. If you find one:
Do not touch it
Do not touch it
Clear the area around it. It will explode on its own in time.
Once it explodes, do not make contact with the liquid inside. If needed, flush it away with large amounts of water.
Do not try to detonate it. You’ll probably be disfigured.
I’ve seen what these can do. The acidic liquid inside can strip the paint off a car.

when i visited vancouver these were everywhere. it’s not a fucking joke they’re actually scary

Just a reminder that there are awful shitty people out there doing awful shitty things to everyone else

there was a bunch of these at disneyland

i found one in my back yard, when i let my dogs out, i pulled them back inside, took my cousins bb shotgun and shot it from a safe distance (i was in my house and shot from the screen door. When it went off, my family and neighbors came running to see if everything was ok. I told them what happened and to watch out for them. 
These things are not a joke! When we went to check the damage there was a fucking hole in the ground. The dirt in my yard is like CLAY.
This shit is bad news

PLEASE DON’T BE AN ASSHAT. PLEASE DON’T LEAVE BOMBS IN PEOPLE’S YARDS.

sparklefairydust:

askthegrandhighboob:

fullofsinfullust:

zzazu:

trenzalord:

geometricdeathtrap:

pugsies:

PLEASE READ. WILL NOT HURT TO AND FORWARD.

Kids are putting Drano, tin foil, and a little water in plastic drink bottles
and capping it up - leaving it on lawns, in mail boxes, in gardens, on driveways etc. just waiting for you to pick it up intending to put it in the rubbish, but you’ll never make it!!!

If the bottle is picked up, and the bottle is shaken even just a little - in about 30 seconds or less it builds up enough gas which then explodes with enough force to remove some your extremities. The liquid that comes out is
boiling hot as well.

Don’t pick up any plastic bottles that may be lying in your yards or in the gutter, etc.

Pay attention to this. A plastic bottle with a cap. A little Drano. A little water. A small piece of foil.
Disturb it by moving it; and BOOM!! No fingers left and other serious effects to your face, eyes, etc.

Please ensure that everyone that may not have email access are also informed of this. 

Snopes confirms.

I’ve dealt with these before. If you find one:

  • Do not touch it
  • Do not touch it
  • Clear the area around it. It will explode on its own in time.
  • Once it explodes, do not make contact with the liquid inside. If needed, flush it away with large amounts of water.
  • Do not try to detonate it. You’ll probably be disfigured.

I’ve seen what these can do. The acidic liquid inside can strip the paint off a car.

when i visited vancouver these were everywhere. it’s not a fucking joke they’re actually scary

Just a reminder that there are awful shitty people out there doing awful shitty things to everyone else

there was a bunch of these at disneyland

i found one in my back yard, when i let my dogs out, i pulled them back inside, took my cousins bb shotgun and shot it from a safe distance (i was in my house and shot from the screen door. When it went off, my family and neighbors came running to see if everything was ok. I told them what happened and to watch out for them. 

These things are not a joke! When we went to check the damage there was a fucking hole in the ground. The dirt in my yard is like CLAY.

This shit is bad news

PLEASE DON’T BE AN ASSHAT. PLEASE DON’T LEAVE BOMBS IN PEOPLE’S YARDS.

batman-nolanverse:

image

(Source: bitchpleaseteachme)

Apr 9
sixpenceee:

10 year old Yemeni girl smiling after she was granted a divorce from her husband- a 30 year old man
Here’s what I found after looking into it. 
Nujood Ali was nine when her parents arranged a marriage to Faez Ali Thamer, a man in his thirties. Regularly beaten by her in-laws and raped by her husband, Ali escaped on April 2, 2008, two months after the wedding. 
On the advice of her father’s second wife, she went directly to court to seek a divorce. After waiting for half a day, she was noticed by a judge, Mohammed al-għadha, who gave her refuge. He had both her father and husband taken into custody.
Indeed, publicity surrounding Ali’s case is said to have inspired efforts to annul other child marriages, including that of an 8 year old Saudi girl who was allowed to divorce a middle-aged man in 2009.
BUT In 2013 Ali reported to the media that her father had forced her out of their home and is withholding her money granted by publishers. Her father has also arranged a marriage for her younger sister, Haifa.
I GOT THE INFORMATION FROM THIS WIKI PAGE
Also this girl has her own book

sixpenceee:

10 year old Yemeni girl smiling after she was granted a divorce from her husband- a 30 year old man

Here’s what I found after looking into it. 

Nujood Ali was nine when her parents arranged a marriage to Faez Ali Thamer, a man in his thirties. Regularly beaten by her in-laws and raped by her husband, Ali escaped on April 2, 2008, two months after the wedding.

On the advice of her father’s second wife, she went directly to court to seek a divorce. After waiting for half a day, she was noticed by a judge, Mohammed al-għadha, who gave her refuge. He had both her father and husband taken into custody.

Indeed, publicity surrounding Ali’s case is said to have inspired efforts to annul other child marriages, including that of an 8 year old Saudi girl who was allowed to divorce a middle-aged man in 2009.

BUT In 2013 Ali reported to the media that her father had forced her out of their home and is withholding her money granted by publishers. Her father has also arranged a marriage for her younger sister, Haifa.

I GOT THE INFORMATION FROM THIS WIKI PAGE

Also this girl has her own book

Apr 7

sixpenceee:

If you thought the post on twins sharing consciousness was awesome, wait until you hear this.

A 44-year-old French man one day went to the trip to the doctor’s because he felt a pain in his left leg. He’s a married man with two kids and a steady job.

Doctor’s found that he had hydrocephalus as a child (when your brain is filled with fluids) so they decided to run some brain scans.

What they found was that the majority of his head was filled with fluid. Over time, the buildup caused his lateral ventricles to swell so much that his brain had been flattened to a thin sheet.

Doctors estimated that his brain mass had been reduced by at most 70%, affecting the areas in charge of motion, language, emotion, and, well, everything.

Shockingly, he was fine. While his IQ was only 75, he wasn’t mentally challenged. He held a steady job, raised a family, and didn’t have trouble interacting with others.

Over time, his brain had adapted to all that pressure, and even though he had fewer neurons that most, Jacques was still a fully functional human being.

The doctors drained the fluid and while his brain is much smaller now, he is still a healthy individual with a normal life.

SOURCE

Apr 7

calleo:

highenergyjewtrino:

A friend linked me these because he thought they’d be relevant to me, he was extremely correct.  If these pieces of advice aren’t relevant to you, improve yourself until they are.

[source]

A good chunk of Tumblr could benefit from this.

Apr 5
autisticadvocacy:

[Image is a world Autism Awareness Day logo that has a stylized globe and sun with person-shapes holding hands around it. “World Autism Awareness Day” is below it.]
active-rva:

April is, among other things, Autism Awareness Month, so you may see tables for autism advocacy organizations around (especially on college campuses). Do not donate to Autism Speaks- they have no autistic people on their board, haverefused to hire parents with autistic children, use legal threats to shut down criticism of their organization from people with autism, adheres to the widely-discredited theory that vaccination causes autism (in that they dump money into researching the connection), and are generally not useful or well-liked by actual autistic people.Generally, the endeavor is like Susan G. Koemen, a big fundraising loop (they sell products to ‘raise awareness’ and then use those proceeds to sell more products) that fails to benefit anyone but those pulling salaries from the effort, who are notably not autistic. Only 4% of their budget goes to services for autistic people and their families. Instead, donate to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

autisticadvocacy:

[Image is a world Autism Awareness Day logo that has a stylized globe and sun with person-shapes holding hands around it. “World Autism Awareness Day” is below it.]

active-rva:

April is, among other things, Autism Awareness Month, so you may see tables for autism advocacy organizations around (especially on college campuses). 

Do not donate to Autism Speaks- they have no autistic people on their board, haverefused to hire parents with autistic childrenuse legal threats to shut down criticism of their organization from people with autismadheres to the widely-discredited theory that vaccination causes autism (in that they dump money into researching the connection), and are generally not useful or well-liked by actual autistic people.

Generally, the endeavor is like Susan G. Koemen, a big fundraising loop (they sell products to ‘raise awareness’ and then use those proceeds to sell more products) that fails to benefit anyone but those pulling salaries from the effort, who are notably not autistic. Only 4% of their budget goes to services for autistic people and their families

Instead, donate to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

Apr 3
iwillnotshavemyvagina:

From Facebook
After spending years developing a simple machine to make inexpensive sanitary pads, Arunachalam Muruganantham has become the unlikely leader of a menstrual health revolution in rural India. Over sixteen years, Muruganantham’s machine has spread to 1,300 villages in 23 states and since most of his clients are NGOs and women’s self-help groups who produce and sell the pads directly in a “by the women, for the women, and to the women” model, the average machine also provides employment for ten women. Muruganantham’s interest in menstrual health began in 1998 when, as a young, newly married man, he saw his wife, Shanthi, hiding the rags she used as menstrual cloths. Like most men in his village, he had no idea about the reality of menstruation and was horrified that cloths that “I would not even use… to clean my scooter” were his wife’s solution to menstrual sanitation. When he asked why she didn’t buy sanitary pads, she told him that the expense would prevent her from buying staples like milk for the family. Muruganantham, who left school at age 14 to start working, decided to try making his own sanitary pads for less but the testing of his first prototype ran into a snag almost immediately: Muruganantham had no idea that periods were monthly. “I can’t wait a month for each feedback, it’ll take two decades!” he said, and sought volunteers among the women in his community. He discovered that less than 10% of the women in his area used sanitary pads, instead using rags, sawdust, leaves, or ash. Even if they did use cloths, they were too embarrassed to dry them in the sun, meaning that they never got disinfected — contributing to the approximately 70% of all reproductive diseases in India that are caused by poor menstrual hygiene. Finding volunteers was nearly impossible: women were embarrassed, or afraid of myths about sanitary pads that say that women who use them will go blind or never marry. Muruganantham came up with an ingenious solution: “I became the man who wore a sanitary pad,” he says. He made an artificial uterus, filled it with goat’s blood, and wore it throughout the day. But his determination had severe consequences: his village concluded he was a pervert with a sexual disease, his mother left his household in shame and his wife left him. As he remarks in the documentary “Menstrual Man” about his experience, “So you see God’s sense of humour. I’d started the research for my wife and after 18 months she left me!”After years of research, Muruganantham perfected his machine and now works with NGOs and women’s self-help groups to distribute it. Women can use it to make sanitary napkins for themselves, but he encourages them to make pads to sell as well to provide employment for women in poor communities. And, since 23% of girls drop out of school once they start menstruating, he also works with schools, teaching girls to make their own pads: “Why wait till they are women? Why not empower girls?” As communities accepted his machine, opinions of his “crazy” behavior changed. Five and a half years after she left, Shanthi contacted him, and they are now living together again. She says it was hard living with the ostracization that came from his project, but now, she helps spread the word about sanitary napkins to other women. “Initially I used to be very shy when talking to people about it, but after all this time, people have started to open up. Now they come and talk to me, they ask questions and they also get sanitary napkins to try them.”In 2009, Muruganantham was honored with a national Innovation Award in 2009 by then President of India, Pratibha Patil, beating out nearly 1,000 other entries. Now, he’s looking at expanding to other countries and believes that 106 countries could benefit from his invention. Muruganantham is proud to have made such a difference: “from childhood I know no human being died because of poverty — everything happens because of ignorance… I have accumulated no money but I accumulate a lot of happiness.” His proudest moment? A year after he installed one of the machines in a village so poor that, for generations, no one had earned enough for their children to attend school. Then he received a call from one of the women selling sanitary pads who told him that, thanks to the income, her daughter was now able to go to school. To read more about Muruganantham’s story, the BBC featured a recent profile on him at http://bbc.in/1i8tebG or watch his TED talk at http://bit.ly/1n594l6. You can also view his company’s website at http://newinventions.in/To learn more about the 2013 documentary Menstrual Man about Muruganantham, visit http://www.menstrualman.com/For resources to help girls prepare for and understand their periods - including several first period kits - visit our post on: “That Time of the Month: Teaching Your Mighty Girl about Her Menstrual Cycle” at www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=3281To help your tween understand the changes she’s experiencing both physically and emotionally during puberty, check out the books recommended in our post on “Talking with Tweens and Teens About Their Bodies” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=2229And, if you’re looking for ways to encourage your children to become the next engineering and technology innovators, visit A Mighty Girl’s STEM toy section athttp://www.amightygirl.com/toys/toys-games/science-math

iwillnotshavemyvagina:

From Facebook

After spending years developing a simple machine to make inexpensive sanitary pads, Arunachalam Muruganantham has become the unlikely leader of a menstrual health revolution in rural India. Over sixteen years, Muruganantham’s machine has spread to 1,300 villages in 23 states and since most of his clients are NGOs and women’s self-help groups who produce and sell the pads directly in a “by the women, for the women, and to the women” model, the average machine also provides employment for ten women. 

Muruganantham’s interest in menstrual health began in 1998 when, as a young, newly married man, he saw his wife, Shanthi, hiding the rags she used as menstrual cloths. Like most men in his village, he had no idea about the reality of menstruation and was horrified that cloths that “I would not even use… to clean my scooter” were his wife’s solution to menstrual sanitation. When he asked why she didn’t buy sanitary pads, she told him that the expense would prevent her from buying staples like milk for the family. 

Muruganantham, who left school at age 14 to start working, decided to try making his own sanitary pads for less but the testing of his first prototype ran into a snag almost immediately: Muruganantham had no idea that periods were monthly. “I can’t wait a month for each feedback, it’ll take two decades!” he said, and sought volunteers among the women in his community. He discovered that less than 10% of the women in his area used sanitary pads, instead using rags, sawdust, leaves, or ash. Even if they did use cloths, they were too embarrassed to dry them in the sun, meaning that they never got disinfected — contributing to the approximately 70% of all reproductive diseases in India that are caused by poor menstrual hygiene. 

Finding volunteers was nearly impossible: women were embarrassed, or afraid of myths about sanitary pads that say that women who use them will go blind or never marry. Muruganantham came up with an ingenious solution: “I became the man who wore a sanitary pad,” he says. He made an artificial uterus, filled it with goat’s blood, and wore it throughout the day. But his determination had severe consequences: his village concluded he was a pervert with a sexual disease, his mother left his household in shame and his wife left him. As he remarks in the documentary “Menstrual Man” about his experience, “So you see God’s sense of humour. I’d started the research for my wife and after 18 months she left me!”

After years of research, Muruganantham perfected his machine and now works with NGOs and women’s self-help groups to distribute it. Women can use it to make sanitary napkins for themselves, but he encourages them to make pads to sell as well to provide employment for women in poor communities. And, since 23% of girls drop out of school once they start menstruating, he also works with schools, teaching girls to make their own pads: “Why wait till they are women? Why not empower girls?” 

As communities accepted his machine, opinions of his “crazy” behavior changed. Five and a half years after she left, Shanthi contacted him, and they are now living together again. She says it was hard living with the ostracization that came from his project, but now, she helps spread the word about sanitary napkins to other women. “Initially I used to be very shy when talking to people about it, but after all this time, people have started to open up. Now they come and talk to me, they ask questions and they also get sanitary napkins to try them.”

In 2009, Muruganantham was honored with a national Innovation Award in 2009 by then President of India, Pratibha Patil, beating out nearly 1,000 other entries. Now, he’s looking at expanding to other countries and believes that 106 countries could benefit from his invention. 

Muruganantham is proud to have made such a difference: “from childhood I know no human being died because of poverty — everything happens because of ignorance… I have accumulated no money but I accumulate a lot of happiness.” His proudest moment? A year after he installed one of the machines in a village so poor that, for generations, no one had earned enough for their children to attend school. Then he received a call from one of the women selling sanitary pads who told him that, thanks to the income, her daughter was now able to go to school. 

To read more about Muruganantham’s story, the BBC featured a recent profile on him at http://bbc.in/1i8tebG or watch his TED talk at http://bit.ly/1n594l6. You can also view his company’s website at http://newinventions.in/

To learn more about the 2013 documentary Menstrual Man about Muruganantham, visit http://www.menstrualman.com/

For resources to help girls prepare for and understand their periods - including several first period kits - visit our post on: “That Time of the Month: Teaching Your Mighty Girl about Her Menstrual Cycle” at www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=3281

To help your tween understand the changes she’s experiencing both physically and emotionally during puberty, check out the books recommended in our post on “Talking with Tweens and Teens About Their Bodies” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=2229

And, if you’re looking for ways to encourage your children to become the next engineering and technology innovators, visit A Mighty Girl’s STEM toy section athttp://www.amightygirl.com/toys/toys-games/science-math

(Source: jnenifre)