Published On: May 28, 2019 05:12 PM NPT By: Aditya Neupane

International Menstruation Hygiene Day: Let’s break menstruation taboos

International Menstruation Hygiene Day: Let’s break menstruation taboos

While celebrating International Menstrual Hygiene Day, it is high time that women and men work together to smash taboos surrounding menstruation.

World Menstrual Hygiene Day is marked on May 27 every year. Marking the day reminds us  the importance to change stigma around periods by dropping euphemisms and embracing clearer language around menstruation. Back in 2014, WASH United started the Menstrual Hygiene Day in order to build awareness of the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management plays in helping women and girls reach their full potential.“It’s time for action” is the theme for the global community participating in the World Menstrual Hygiene Day this year. The theme encourages civilians, government, policymakers and concerned authorities to consider framework to break taboos related to menstruation. 

Taboos still exist

Just like any other physical development, half of our population menstruates. However, menstruation is still considered a taboo. These taboos exists in various forms like restricting them to enter the kitchen and holly places, touch sacred materials, fruit-bearing plants and even milking cattle. Moreover, situation of women living in the far flung areas of the country are terrible, as they are banished to chausheds (locally known as chaugoth) during their natural cycle.

Chausheds was outlawed by the Supreme Court in 2005. Later, parliament criminalized this centuries-old tradition of women banishment during menstruation (locally known as Chhaupadi). This new law stipulates a three-month jail sentence or a 3,000 rupee fine, or both, for anyone forcing a woman to follow the tradition.

Campaigns were initiated in the country to demolish chaugoth, but locals resorted back to the practice, building new sheds. This led local women to go through an excruciating pain, as these new sheds were worse than the previous one. Many people died in this congested sheds due to wild animal attack, snake bites and suffocation. There is no proper data, but it is said that every year 10 to 15 people die in these sheds.    

Despite efforts from the government, non-government sectors and concerned authorities, women in rural areas are still extradited to the sheds and girls in the Kathmandu valley are forced to follow the menstrual seclusion. Most of the people are still unaware about the laws implicated by the government. In this scenario,  awareness raising programs and door to door campaigns should be launched to break the menstrual taboos and to support young girls and women in living a dignified life.

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