"Boys don't have knowledge about menstruation; they think it is a bad thing" - Knowledge and Beliefs about Menstruation among Adolescent Boys in Gicumbi District, Rwanda Open Access
Penakalapati, Gauthami (2013)
Research indicates that girls who have reached menarche face numerous challenges in the school environment. Lack of facilities, supplies, and guidance on puberty and menses management can lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment. Girls fear being stigmatized by boys who have flawed understanding of menstruation and who perpetuate stigma surrounding menstruation. Research on boys' understandings of menstruation is limited.
This research aims to understand the knowledge and beliefs adolescent boys have about menstruation and how their understanding influences their behavior towards girls who are menstruating in Gicumbi District, Rwanda.
Qualitative methods were used to encourage open dialogue and enable boys to share in-depth narratives. Five semi-structured focus group discussions were conducted with a sample of 31 primary and secondary school boys aged 9 to 17 years. Data were collected in five urban and rural schools in Gicumbi District. Discussions conducted by locally trained male researchers in Kinyarwanda, the local language. Discussions were recorded, transcribed and translated into English. Data were analyzed in an iterative process of developing and defining codes. The codes were subsequently linked to themes spanning or differing across the FGDs. The developed set of themes address the research aims of the project.
Boys shared their knowledge about the biology of menstruation, menstrual related behaviors, and knowledge of menstrual related challenges. Menstruation signified maturity because girls were able to conceive but boys were misinformed that girls could become pregnant during their menses. Boys were aware that girls lacked adequate water and sanitation facilities and limited access to absorbent materials; these challenges were thought to limit girls' participation in the classroom. Many boys expressed negative ideologies and feelings towards menstruation and acknowledged that menstrual related teasing of female classmates was common.
Boys' negative ideologies about menstruation are perpetuated by the lack of knowledge and the overall silence surrounding the issue. Boys' negative behavior towards girls who are menstruating affects the overall well-being of girls. Teachers and the WASH sector have an opportunity to improve feelings of school connectedness among boys and girls to improve the physical and mental health of girls.
Table of Contents
Introduction and Rationale 1
Problem Statement 1
Purpose Statement 1
Research Aims 1
Significance Statement 1
Terms of Reference 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE 3
Study Setting 12
Study Design 13
School Selection 14
Study Participants 14
Data Collection 15
Data Analysis 15
Knowledge of Menstruation 16
Boys' Behavior towards Girls 26
Boys' Perceptions of Girls' Menstrual-Related Experiences 29
Limitations and Future Research 39
PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS 40
About this Master's Thesis
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