Children’s rights activists have hit out at traditional leaders for banning girls from crossing a river while they are menstruating.
Girls in central Ghana have been banned from crossing the River Ofin by traditional leaders, who say they are enforcing what they call a “directive” from a river god.
But children have to cross the river to get to school in Kyekyewere, in the Upper Denkyira East district in the Central Region of Ghana.
So this means girls cannot attend school while they are on their periods.
However, it is not just on period days: a second order from the river gods bans all girls from crossing the river on Tuesdays.
Unicef’s menstrual hygiene ambassador Shamima Muslim Alhassan told the BBC the directive is in violation of girls’ right to education:
It seems the gods are really powerful aren’t they? Sometimes I think that we need to ask for some form of accountability from these gods who continue to bar a lot of things from happening, to account for how they have used the tremendous power that we have given them.”
The River Ofin serves as a boundary between the Ashanti and Central Region.
Central Regional Minister Kwamena Duncan has given indications he will coordinate with the Ashanti regional minister to find a solution.
Many cultures have myths and taboos around menstruation.
In Madagascar, some females are told not to wash during their periods and in Nepal some women are forced to sleep in huts away from the rest of the family.