Seven in 10 females in Nairobi’s Kibera slum have traded sex for sanitary pads, a British online newspaper claimed in a September 2018 article.
“New exclusive research by Unicef found 65% of females in the Kibera slum – an area of the capital of Nairobi which is the largest urban slum in Africa – had traded sex for sanitary pads,” wrote the Independent.
(Note: The publication later changed its description of Kibera to “one of the largest urban slums in Africa”.)
The Independent said “Kenyan girls” were “forced” into this trade by “period poverty” – described as a lack of money to buy sanitary products – and by shame, stigma and public health misinformation.
None of the studies were on Kibera
Africa Check contacted Unicef for the source of the 65% figure and were told it came from “several studies”.
Ariana Youn, who focuses on advocacy for the UN agency, shared links to two “primary reports”, adding that a third would be provided. (Note: Africa Check followed up repeatedly on this. We will update this report should we get it.)
But the two studies focused on western Kenya, not Kibera. And Unicef did not have any role in either of them, Dr Penelope Phillips-Howard, a public health epidemiologist at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine who was involved in their research, told Africa Check.
One of the studies found that one in 10, or 10%, of 15-year-old girls admitted to having transactional sex to get money for pads, Phillips-Howard said. But of the 3,418 women aged 13 to 29 surveyed overall, only 1.3% said they had done this.
(Note: The Independent later added the 10% figure to its story: “Unicef found 10% of young adolescent girls admitted to having transactional sex for pads in western Kenya.” The original article can be found here. Africa Check has contacted the author about the changes but we are yet to get a response.)
The other study looked at how menstrual hygiene affected the school attendance and reproductive health of 644 girls aged 14 to 16 in western Kenya. It did not mention sex for sanitary pads at all.
*The views of the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Africa Speaks 4 Africa or its editorial team.