Brought up in a Brahmin family, I have experienced different practices done by girls in the name of religion and culture. Among those practices the most common and unwanted is that of treating a girl during her menstruation. A girl being physically weak in those 4 days of month has to face not only those cramps and pains but has to confront situations of being addressed as ‘impure’. When the body seems to be weak, she is treated as an untouchable impure girl who has to stay within a allotted territory without touching the male members of family!
Is it really true that a girl is impure during her periods? Why is she behaved as untouchable? Why isn’t she allowed to enter the kitchen and touch a single item there? Why are temples and religious functions closed for her? Why isn’t she able to enjoy her freedom like the way she did merely a couple of days ago.
Menstruation is a natural process in woman which takes place for 4 days. There are no any scientific statements or reasons as to stating and clarifying that a girl is impure then. When a girl is bleeding, she goes through many internal changes in her body which makes her irritated and more emotional. She expects some care and love towards her but instead she is kept alone. She is not even allowed to touch plants as it is believed that the plant dies when a girl touches it during her first period.
Imagine being ‘home-alone’ during the festive season (like Dashain), where all your family members have left you on your own and they are out celebrating at your relative’s! It hurts. Doesn’t it? A girl during her periods faces it every now and then. I personally had to face it. Having educated parents, I was not allowed to celebrate Dashain! Why was I stopped to celebrate Dashain? This is all because of the culture which is being practiced ever since. Most of us are not ready to accept the change that a girl is not impure during her menstruation cycle.
Menstruation is a cycle of getting rid of the unwanted blood from our body. During these days, care and sanitation is very important. We still hear Chaupadi Pratha in the far-western and mid-western Nepal where a girl is kept in cow shed during her menstruation days. This practice leads her life to danger as there is neither proper protection nor good place for a shelter. It is a basic human right violation as it has challenged a girl’s life physically and mentally.
Chaupadi inflicts major health hazards like pneumonia, diarrhea, chest infection, suffocation, and respiratory tract infection. During these days, women are forbidden from going inside the house. They are yet expected to do more laborious work outside like carrying heavy loads, collecting firewood and grass despite the lack of a nutritious diet. As a consequence, the rate of prolapsed uterus is high among this group. Isolation from family and social elimination results in depression, low self-esteem, and disempowerment among girls. There is also a fear of sexual abuse and assault at night alongside the attack of wild animals and snake bites. Most of the deaths due to wild animals are not revealed and neither are the cases of rape, fearing the future of the unmarried daughter.
The problem may seem a small too many but it is a serious issue which results in physical, mental and psychological impact in a girl’s life. People are not educated enough to understand that this natural phenomenon in a girl which is a part of her adolescent change. A girl is not impure in this period. She actually is being purified instead. She should get the due Respect: Respect for being able to fight that utterly continuous pain.
Regmi is Grade 10 student at Kanjirowa National Secondary School, Koteshwar.