Gloria Orwoba, a Kenyan woman politician, was asked to leave the parliament after she arrived in white trousers stained with fake menstrual blood as a protest against period poverty and stigma.
On Tuesday Feb. 14, Orwoba arrived at the parliament in a white trouser suit that had a visible red stain in the crotch area.
Several senators then interrupted the parliamentary session to protest her “inappropriate” dress code, with some calling it “indecent”.
In response, Orwoba, a nominated senator, said she was disappointed to be questioned over “an accident that is natural”.
“I think I’m dressed as per the standing orders – I’m covered, I have a suit, I have collars, I’m just short of a tie,” she told the Senate, according to the BBC.
“I’m shocked someone can stand here and say the House has been disgraced because a woman has had her period,” she said, according to Africa News.
The speaker eventually asked her to leave the building and change before she could reenter.
“Unfortunately I have been kicked out because I’m on my period and we are not supposed to show our period when we are on our period and that is the kind of period stigma girls and women are having outside,” Orwoba told journalists outside.
Instead of changing, she then visited a school to distribute sanitary pads.
Orwoba has been pushing for a bill for free sanitary pads for people who can’t afford them – known as period poverty.
The period stain – which was actually artificial coloring – had been a part of her efforts to raise awareness around the issue.
“Since I am always advocating against period shame, I thought I should go ahead and walk the talk,” Orwoba told the BBC.
Period poverty is a serious issue in Kenya, with less than 65% of Kenyan women able to afford sanitary products, according to 2020 statistics from Menstrual Hygiene Day.
Others have to resort to using toilet paper, pieces of blanket or cloth as substitutes, or even having sex to pay for period products, according to a 2015 study.
The lack of access to proper products is also forcing young girls to miss school every month out of shame.
“This is the period stigma that is making our girls kill themselves,” Orwoba said, according to local outlet the Star.
“There is a girl who killed herself because of the same issue that I’m going through. And now I understand why,” she added.