ACHHAM, Nov 24: Ramita Saud, 16, was excited when her family recently started constructing a toilet at their house. But a few days after the construction was complete, she had her monthly period and was barred from using the toilet for five days.
"I am not allowed to use the toilet during the five days of menstruation. So, even if I am allowed to use it at other times, it makes little sense to me," said the local of Nandegedi, Achham.
Now during menstruation, she has to go to a nearby jungle or the river or the canal. "When my days come near, they alert me. They are happy if I don't sneak into the toilet. Therefore I avoid using the toilet," Saud said.
According to the office of the District Drinking Water and Sanitation Committee, around 64 percent of the girls and women in the district are barred from using the family toilet during the five days of their periods. They are sent away to fields, jungle or rivers to answer the call of nature.
"According to our study, over 64 percent of women in Achham are barred from using the family toilet during their periods," said Krishna Prasad Jaisi, spokesperson of the committee.
Achaam is one of the districts to commonly practice Chhaupadi, which is a practice of keeping women in isolated hut or shed during menstruation and post delivery). In lack of enough air, light and security, many girls and women have died in such sheds. The government has already banned Chhaupadi.
According to Manju Mahat, officer at Women and Children Welfare Committee, Achham, health and sanitation is a crucial issue in the farwestern region. Even though the government launched several programs to discourage the practice of Chhaupadi, they have not been effective. "Many areas have been declared Chhaupadi free zones. Similarly, Achham has also been declared open defecation free zone," said Mahat. "However, if we scrutinize things, there is huge room for improvement"