Banished For Menstruating

Issue 21  //  · 

STATISTICS

KNOWN LOCALLY AS A “GOTH”, MENSTRUATION HUTS ARE A COMMON SIGHT IN WEST NEPAL

OUTLAWED BY THE SUPREME COURT OF NEPAL IN 2005 TO LITTLE EFFECT 

80% OF THE NEPALESE POPULATION ARE HINDUS 

WHAT IS IT? 
Chhaupadi is an ancient tradition mainly practiced in the western regions of Nepal, where menstruating women are banned from participating in daily activities due to them being “impure”. Women are banished from their houses and kept in a cattle shed or makeshift hut for the duration of their period. A woman who has just given birth is also considered impure, and is likewise confined in these huts for 11 days. While on their period, women are forbidden to touch anyone else for fear that others will fall ill. The women are also barred from consuming dairy products, meat, and other nutritious foods, as it is believed that doing so will bring a curse upon those goods. Instead, the women must survive on a diet of dry foods, salt, and rice while living in these less than ideal conditions.

WHY WON’T IT END?
Even though the United Nations and many other organisations have increased efforts to end chhaupadi, it is very difficult to convince the older generation to abandon this long-held tradition. Many believe ending the practice will result in punishment from their gods, and women who turn their backs on the practice are blamed for crop failures, illnesses, and sudden deaths of animals. In these communities, trying to end chhaupadi is an uphill climb as most people — including women — do not know much about reproductive health and why menstruation happens.

WHY IS THIS A PROBLEM?
Apart from being discriminatory, chhaupadi is also a dangerous tradition. In December 2016, a 15-year-old girl died from smoke inhalation when she lit a fire in the windowless shed to keep herself warm. In addition, the possibility of wild animal attacks, fatal snake bites, and even violent rape, make this tradition a potentially life-threatening one. Furthermore, these women are often not allowed to draw water from wells, making it difficult for them to practice personal hygiene, and putting themselves at the risk of infection. In the case of new mothers, good nutrition and a clean environment is crucial for mother and child, yet these basic rights are denied them. Even though the practice has been outlawed since 2005, little progress has been made due to a lack of enforcement. There are no fines or legal action taken against those who practise chhaupadi.

PRAY FOR:
– The Nepalese government to take the issue seriously and press legal action against the practice of chhaupadi
– Organisations trying to put an end to chhaupadi, that God will expand their efforts and soften the hearts of people they reach out to
– Divine protection upon the affected women, that they will be free from harm while banished in menstrual huts

Isabel Phua
Isabel love living in Tampines West. She enjoy the neighbourhood so much that she even joined the local community centre to watch a World Cup match in 2018. GOOAAALLL!!!

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