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I am a Dutch journalist, writer and photographer and cover topics such as human rights, poverty, migration, environmental issues, culture and business. I’m currently based in The Hague, The Netherlands, and frequently travel to other parts of the world. I have also lived in Tunisia, Egypt, Kuwait and Dubai.
My work has been published by Al Jazeera English, BBC, The Atlantic's CityLab, Vice, Deutsche Welle, Middle East Eye, The Sydney Morning Herald, and many Dutch and Belgian publications.
I hold an MA in Arabic Languages and Cultures from Radboud University Nijmegen and a post-Master degree in Journalism from Erasmus University Rotterdam. What I love most about my work is the opportunities I get to ask loads of questions. Email: [email protected]
Kerning Cultures, made by “children of the Middle East”, tells the kinds of stories they “want to discuss with our friends over warm cups of coffee on cosy sofas”.
This time, they asked women to tell about their first periods, which, they say, in some cases, and especially in the Arab world, sets the tone for how you feel about your body for the rest of your life.
Producers Darah Ghanem and Shahd Bani Odeh came up with the idea of asking Arab women to send in anonymous voice recordings in response to some questions around their periods.
I woke up on the day of my 11th birthday with blood all over the beds and in my underwear, and went to my Mom and said, Mom, I got my period. My mother lost her temper than in there in a really bad way and said, why did you have to get your period now?
Another woman says:
I remember that day. I panicked so much, I was like no the bloody monster is here. Why? So I see it and I'm like, okay, I cannot tell anyone. So I hid my period from my family for two years.
I do remember that it was very important to keep it discreet. I was always kind of hushed when I was saying period or pad like loud in public. And I guess that kind of showed me that it wasn't something to be happy or proud of. It was something a bit more shameful, like a dirty secret that you can't tell anybody.
And yet another woman remarks:
So, why do we fear it so much? Because our parents made it such a taboo, right? Why did our moms do that? Because it was done to them. And why do men not take ownership or want to learn because as well, they weren't exposed, it’s like I don't want to know about this bloody thing. Just break the cycle, right? Generations change, we learn from our parents' mistakes.