The purpose of this paper is to investigate what kind of education about menstrual hygiene management is given at primary schools in Papua New Guinea and how female students are dealing with menstruation. It presents what needs to be done in order to bring women's practices into line with recent policies and development projects related to menstrual hygiene management.
The target of the survey was a primary school in a rural area of East Sepik Province. At the primary school, “classes” related to menstrual hygiene are held. I explain the contents of the “class” and the toilet facilities of the school and present the results of a questionnaire survey conducted with female students. The “class” is based on modern views of reproduction and hygiene. School toilet facilities are inadequate to maintain hygiene and privacy for managing menstruation, for example broken doors, no trash bins, and no incinerators. When dealing with menstruation for female students at the primary school, fears related to menstruation and shame against menstruation were observed.
In this paper, I show that the perception which considers menstruation as an embarrassment was born in modern education and it should be considered as a separate thing from taboos and fears over menstruation. For the new generation who go to school and use disposable sanitary pads, it is obvious that menstrual blood adhering to used pads has made them dirty, rather than an ambiguity between fertile and impure. I show that the improvement of absorbent sanitary products and toilet facilities under the policy and development project for dealing with menstrual hygiene can reduce feelings of fear and shame about menstruation. I also clarify that the spread of reusable cloth pads is not considered appropriate for women's practices when hygiene is considered.