‘Better off dead’ - Sasha’s story of living with vaginal fistula

Glory Gatwiri, Helen McLaren

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper draws on the narrative of a Samburu woman, whom we call Sasha, from northern Kenya. She has been living with recto-and vesico-vaginal fistula for more than ten years. Her homeland is characterized by abject poverty, patriarchy and traditional practices involving witchcraft, which is intertwined with the teachings of Christian evangelist missionaries that traverse the last two centuries. Sasha's research interview offered representations of the broader social and political aspects affecting women with vaginal fistula and how this influences their lived experiences. We suggest that this condition is more than a biomedical issue, which we explain through our interpretive feminist analysis of Sasha's story. An African feminist lens enables attention towards the influences of patriarchy, African ethnicities and underdevelopment of the African continent.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)247-259
    Number of pages13
    JournalThe Journal of International Women’s Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • African Feminism
    • Cultural practices
    • Kenya
    • Leaking bodies
    • Obstetric fistulas
    • Patriarchy


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