Kenyan women on Twitter have called for a boycott of Always sanitary towels, accusing the manufacturer, Proctor & Gamble, of supplying the African market with substandard products.
A tweet by activist Scheaffer Okore under the hashtag, #MyAlwaysExperience, led to hundreds of women sharing their unpleasant experiences with the brand.
They complained of itching, rashes, boils and burns. Some had tales of embarrassing “leaks”, while others said they had switched to other brands.
Like many, @yellowyesmellow wrote: “ … Before these conversations, I sincerely thought it was normal that my pad burnt. That I had to apply Vaseline or Arimis on my outer genitals to reduce the burns every time.”
Magdaline Awino* told the Nation of how an itch in her private parts made her suspect that her husband’s had infected her with a sexually transmitted infection. But when they both went for tests, the results showed no STI or yeast infection as she had suspected. She said the irritation stopped when she switched to a different brand.
The women compared the towels to brands in Europe, saying the latter were more comfortable.
P & G enjoys a great hold on the Kenyan market for sanitary towels and cotton wool, with about five sanitary products.
The complaints forced the firm to create a Twitter account for Always Kenya, on which it defended its product, saying the quality is similar to those in other parts of the world, “including Germany, UK, US, South Africa”.
In a statement to the Nation, the company apologised for the delay in responding to the complaints and termed the comparisons of their products in different regions as misinformation.
The retail giant reiterated that its products undergo rigorous tests, and are made using the same technology and materials.
On the itches and burns the company said: “Different women have had different experiences with our products.”
Kenyans have also asked the company to remove the plastic lining, which is believed to cause rashes, infections, and burns, and to improve on absorbency for Kenya’s tropical climate. They asked Kenyans in the diaspora to share their experiences.
Meanwhile, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) said it has launched investigations into the complaints, and that “the outcomes of the analysis will determine the next course of action, including market withdrawal of any substandard products.”
It encouraged clients who have had other unpleasant experiences with the brand to report to its office.