News‘I thought boys have a period too’!

Mary (not her real name) is 13 years old, she lives in a small settlement in thana Daulatpur. Mary has a physical disability and a learning disadvantage. The first time she had her period she was shocked, she thought she had a serious illness and would die.

She did not dare to go to her mother at first, but when her mother noticed blood stains in Mary trouser she told her about her scary illness. Her mother said that it meant she was ready to marry. In a training on reproductive health education that Mary received from Niketan she heard more about the blood loss. It was not a disease, it was called menstruation, it meant that she became an adult and that her body got ready to be able to have children later. Like all her friends, she thought boys would have these monthly problems too.

The neighbor of Mary raped her three times, it would have been part of the process to adulthood he had told her. It was good, he said, but she was not allowed to tell anyone about it. But it did not feel right, it hurt. In the training she dared to talk about it and her suspicions were correct, it was not okay. Together with a confidential counselor she told her story to her parents.

In a knowledge fair about Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare organized by ShareNet Bangladesh, Niketan founder Antoinette Termoshuizen as Keynote speaker told the story of Mary and the method she developed. In her presentation she also spoke about the right to make independent decisions and the specific challenges. Because young people with a disability have less access to information sources such as books, TV and the Internet and do not understand information that they receive via these channels, they can get a distorted picture, which can lead to serious sexual cross-border behavior. Their development, often not synchronized, can also result in physical possibilities increasing, while understanding, feeling and relationships do not grow. People with intellectual disabilities are vulnerable, have more often experienced sexual violence than people without a disability.

Antoinette called teaching young people with intellectual disabilities as dancing on a rope. It is important to continuously monitor during and after a training course and to evaluate whether the young people have understood the lessons and no misinterpretations have arisen.

Download the Presentation ShareNet knowledge fair

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