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Women in Nepal Are Forced to Sleep in ‘Menstruation Huts’ Without Water

women in nepal

A tradition that discriminates against women is still going on in some areas of western Nepal. During their menstrual period, women in Nepal have to live in a hut, away from everything and everyone.

Menstruating Women in Nepal Away from Society

The name of this tradition is Chhaupadi. It is a kind of forced exile due to a hard to die Hindu superstition. According to popular belief, in fact, menstrual blood is impure. For this reason, menstruating women must leave the community since they are dangerous.

Although it is now illegal in Nepal, this practice continues to be in use. Women cannot even participate in family and social activities. In this way the impurity remains outside the home, locked up in makeshift huts called “chhau“. Here, women often die from animal bites or smoke inhalation due to fires lit to warm themselves.

How Do Girls Live This Situation?

A team of researchers at the University of Bath shed light on this issue with a study in the journal Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters. They reached the province of Karnali in central-western Nepal and interviewed 400 local girls aged between 14 and 19 years. In this way, they found that 77% of them still practice this tradition. Moreover, when there is no hut to welcome them, they must often sleep outdoors.

The girls have also reported that when they have their period they cannot deal with men or attend temples, cook or enter the house. They cannot even use warm blankets to cover themselves. The tradition is passed on by older women, who are used to considering it normal in a strongly patriarchal mentality. As a result, they are unaware of hurting their daughters and grandchildren.

The reason why, according to researchers, the practice is still so widespread despite the prohibition of the law, is that it is deeply rooted cultural behaviour. Consequently, the majority of the population considers this to be right. In order to make a change, therefore, people need to change their mentality as well. That is the actual mission of researchers. They want to foster a new awareness and at the same time make sure that the girls in huts have at least access to water, sanitation and basic necessities.

However, we need to be aware that in order to put a real end to such traditions it is essential that those who practice them learn to look at them from another perspective. They need to be challenged. Only in this way people can acquire a new mentality.

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