Bulqia: A Deaf Male Activist Who Talks About Menstruation Hygiene Management

Bulqia is a male feminist and a youth activist.

Bulqia has had hearing impairment ever since he was born fifteen years ago. He is currently a student  at Special Education School in the city of Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara. Having been a peer educator since February 2020, Bulqia is responsible to educate his friends about the importance of Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) especially at school.

He aspires to change a longstanding mindset that menstruation is only women’s responsibility. He believes that men need to learn about it as well before they can offer help to their female friends.

His view about menstrual hygiene management has changed after he joined  peer educator’s training conducted by Plan Indonesia, through the WINNER project in June 2020. Aside from giving knowledge about Community-based Total Sanitation (STBM), Plan Indonesia has also taught students not to be ashamed to talk about menstruation, especially for boys.

Figure 1: Bulqia in his video about men and menstruation

Bulqia has always been actively campaigning on digital platforms, especially through his social media. Furthermore, after becoming a peer educator and learning about STBM and MHM from Plan Indonesia, he has a lot more ammunition to campaign with.

Since the government issued a regulation to eliminate face-to-face teaching and learning activities in schools in March 2020, all students in Indonesia, one of them Bulqia, have had to study at home. However, this condition actually sharpens creativity and does not discourage Bulqia from continuing to create. Bulqia independently produced a campaign video on preventing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moreover, in 2020 Bulqia received the “Anugerah KPAI 2020” (Indonesia Child Protection Commission Award 2020) for his active involvement in campaigning the WASH, MHM and COVID-19 prevention. That award was given in order to celebrate the National Children’s Day 2020 on July 23.

Figure 2: Bulqia receiving the award from KPAI (Indonesia National Commission of Child Protection)       on July 2020 for his  contribution on WASH and COVID-19 Campaign to community

Before COVID-19 pandemic, people with disabilities faced a lot of obstacles in having access to information and hygiene and sanitation facilities. COVID-19 pandemic is worsening the obstacles and the stigma that they have been facing all along. The involvement of people with disabilities is needed to make sure all of their needs are accommodated and to break negative stigma against them.

Despite his disabilities, he feels that nothing could stop him from educating his surroundings to prevent the COVID-19 from spreading.