How Nepalese Women banished to huts to have their menstrual periods in some parts of Nepal
In the mid- and far-western regions of Nepal, there lived Hindu devotees who believe menstruating women/girl as unclean and adulterated. Not only that, in these parts of Nepal they are supposed to stay in a hut or cowshed for days. It is a deeply rooted practice in these regions known as chhaupadi. The system is also known as ‘chhue’ or ‘bahirhunu’ in Dadeldhura, Baitadi, and Darchula, as ‘chaupadi’ in Achham, and as ‘chaukulla’ or ‘chaukudi’ in Bajhang district. “It is said if we touch men or anything in the house, cook or use public water tanks and wells, our God, Debti, will punish us. Our hands and legs will be twisted, our eyes plucked out,” Durga Buda, a Nepalese woman, told Al Jazeera News Reporter.
Chhaupadi, the system which comes from the superstitious belief is still prevailing in the rural areas of Nepal where people are uneducated. This is so bitter thing for all the Nepalese people that the women are forced to spend their menstrual days in the nearby shed that are generally very untidy and unfit for the stay of any human being but the women are forced to stay in such an inappropriate place. They are not even allowed to enter their own home. They are also restricted to have any kind of physical contact with any men and eat any healthy nutritious food.
As a result of the poor hygiene and lack of nutritious supplements, most of the women fall ill in the course of the practice of such Chhaupadi system and few women have lost their lives at the same time. Nepal being a male dominant nation, women are often the sufferer of many such corresponding superstitious rites and rituals. A girl is banished to huts between ten and eleven days when an adolescent girl has her first period. After then, the duration is between four and seven days each month. Childbirth also results in a ten to eleven-day confinement.
People of mid- and far-western regions of Nepal believe that if they continue doing this system the God, or call it Almighty will be happy and bless them and everything will go fine. The women or any other people there don’t wish to be in such a system but they have a say that they are following it as their ancestors were following and told them to preserve it.
Villagers responded that if it was in the case of Christians, Muslims or other religion rather than Hinduism the system won’t be applied to them, they don’t need to be in such thing. In the practice there exist a superstitious logic, if a menstruating woman touches a tree, it will never again bear fruit; if she consumes milk, the cow will not give any more milk; if she reads a book, Saraswati the goddess of education will become angry; if she touches a man, he will be ill. The hut is very small, that you can’t even stand properly over there. The place is full of the bad smell of cow dung, a different breed of insects and dirt that does no good to a human. The place is so horrifying, you can’t even compare it with the washrooms in your home.
Just think about it you somehow managed to stay and sleep over there and that you wake next morning your clothes full of dirty things all over smelling bad, very bad. Women in these regions are facing these problems for real. They are banned to have milk, yogurt, butter, meat, and other nutritious foods. They have to survive there without a warm blankets with a diet of dry foods, salt, rice, a small rug, commonly made out of jute. There are high chances of rape, snake bites or more dangers alike. And many of them have already gone through these dangers. Some are raped. Some died of suffocation. Some women gave birth to a child or took care of child over there and the child died due to unfavourable environment. Women like such and her family is still hoping to have their first child and some of them are disappointed and hopeless about having a their first sibling. Visit to public places are banned during the menstruation.
There are high chances of rape, snake bites or more dangers alike. And many of them have already gone through these dangers. Some are raped. Some died of suffocation. Some women gave birth to a child or took care of a child over there and the child died due to an unfavorable environment. Women like such and her family is still hoping to have their first child and some of them are disappointed and hopeless about having their first sibling. Visit public places are banned during the menstruation.
A schooling girl should leave her school until it’s over and further she is not allowed to perform her daily functions like taking a bath and forced to stay in the in such bad conditions of the shed. Even teachers have to follow the same routine if she is in her period. Women have died while performing the practice, including two young women in late 2016 who died from smoke inhalation in poorly ventilated huts.
Moreover, lack of education is the cause for the continuity of such unethical custom. Women in the cities are aware of such misconceptions and consider their menstruating days to be normal. It is found that superstitious beliefs and poverty are the main reasons behind such traditions. Various awareness programmes are organised to eradicate the system but in vain. However the village girls are still risking their life due to the existing systems like chhaupadi. Chhaupadi was outlawed by the Supreme Court of Nepal in 2005, but the tradition has been slow to change.
Despite having been outlawed, it continues to exist due to several reasons like illiteracy, superstitious beliefs, gender divergence and community endorsement of the practice. This article is aimed to present an analysis of the Chhaupadi practice from the perspectives of human rights and public health as well as ethical theories of liberalism and communitarianism. It is essential to increase the ongoing social awareness among affected Nepali communities about the natural character of menstruating and the harmful practice of Chhaupadi in order to eliminate this violence against women while also addressing the community’s concerns. Hope it will come to end soon. Peace..