In Nepal, ‘Chhaupadi Practice’ (the menstruation exile) is based upon the belief that menstruating women are toxic, inhabiting any public space, socializing with others and should not use water sources that other people share, often prohibited from sharing food or touching anyone and are regarded as ‘untouchables’. We tend to believe that this superstition prevails only in Mid and Far Western part in Nepal. Nevertheless, it still prevails in city areas as well.
Seventeen year old Bhawani Thapa of Baluwatar, Kathmandu is not allowed to enter the kitchen, temple and not sleep in her usual bed when she is menstruating. She has to sleep on the floor placing Rhadi (Sheep Wool Mattress) even though they belong to rich background and well educated family.
Being a teenage girl, she follows what her mother and grandmother tells her to do. Bhawani says "I know in this modern 21st century it is bad practice but still I am compelled to follow in order to show respect for our elders and culture."
Likewise, Chandni Parveen from the Muslim Community shares, “During menstruation the female folks from their community aren’t allowed to pray and read Namaj but they are allowed to cook food and enter the kitchen."
We have been reading news about Chhaupadi practices and how women’s lives are prone to danger and how they lost their lives while following the practice. Moreover, it is still going on. And even in city areas with a bit modernized form it is being practiced.
One such example is of Professor Sita Pandey, who was emotionally coerced into going to a cousin's wedding, to show her respect but yet she was not allowed to participate in the ceremony. Sita says, “I just sat there on a plastic chair 60 feet away watching it all happen and entire people and family knew I was having my period.”
Rabina Magar from Chabhil wasn’t allowed to attend her own father's funeral because she was on her period. She couldn’t do anything — she wasn’t allowed to see her father's face and the funeral ceremony.
This is not meant to disrespect any culture or tradition, but to address the level of awkwardness and discomfort experienced by women. Haven’t we moved forward enough in the world to not scrutinize women who may be having their period? The other side is that if a girl never gets her period, she is considered "barren" which also does not have a positive connotation.
You just cannot win at all. It’s important to teach people to have mindset as 2Ps — Period Positive — being a natural and nothing to be embarrassed about.