Published On: July 26, 2018 11:37 AM NPT By: DikshaTumbahangphe

A culture encouraging isolation

A culture encouraging isolation

Though Nepal is a country rich in cultural diversity, I find that my country has a dualistic nature in culture. For instance, on the one hand, women are worshipped as Goddesses, and on the other, the society we live in is highly patriarchal that has time and time again suppressed the voices of women. As a curious person, I question the duality resulting in the conceptual clash of perception.

Isolation during menstruation has led to women being treated as a submissive gender. On the juncture of her menarche, most girls are constricted from practicing a number of religious and household chores. Moreover, menstruation is perceived as an embarrassment and a social taboo, even in the capital.

In the mid and far western parts of Nepal, menstruation taboos are experienced in the most life-threatening forms. In these areas, though declared illegal, menstruating women are banished to sheds where they struggle in cold and isolation. Animal assaults and declining health are common during their banishment. Subsequently, women suffer from uterus prolapses due to these unhealthy practices and also there exist numerous deaths due to snake bites and suffocation in the hut while on their menstruation.

An examination led by UNICEF (2014) in various districts of Nepal, among 204 pubescent females, demonstrated that 89% of them experienced some type of restriction or exclusion during menstruation. Usually, mothers instructed these socio-cultural beliefs and taboos to the girls of the future generation. 

A nationwide demonstrative survey conducted in Nepal by Ministry of Education Nepal (2015) uncovers that 57.6% of women, aged 15 to 49 years, experienced limitations from social get-togethers, whereas 25% of them were compelled to stay disjointedly, while 8% of them were compelled to bathe separately. 

According to a study shown by Good Neighbors International Nepal (2017) entitled, Knowledge, Attitude and Practice on Menstrual Hygiene Management among School Adolescents in Doti District, it states that more than 50% understood that God will curse family the members if they do not follow the menstruation taboos. 

I have seen the report of PSI Nepal (2017), the report states that all the participants had false notion that, if they do not follow the menstruation restrictions, God would get angry and curse the entire family. 

The law, barring the chapuadi practices, brought rules into practice in 2017 penalizing any member of the family, who compels women to banishment to a jail sentence of 3 months and a fine of 3,000 rupees. It is alarming to realize that, in spite of the law, this practice is still prevalent in some remote parts of Nepal.

Menstruation is an immensely valuable part of female sexuality that signifies women, menstruation should be women’s strength but rather women during menstruation is mistreated, suppressed and considered a curse in some parts of Nepal. Similarly, isolation from the family and social exclusion during menstruation had led women to consequences like low self-respect and losing dignity.

Tumbahangphe is an MPhil student in Kathmandu University School of Education (KUSOED).

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