SURKHET, Aug 25: Seventy-seven percent adolescent girls in Karnali province still spend time in isolated huts locally known as Chhaugoth during menstruation.
A study report shows that 28 percent menstruating girls miss schools. An organisation, Action Works Nepal, working against this practice in its report states that despite having knowledge that the practice, the exclusion of women and girls from home while having periods, is a social evil, the number of adolescent girls observing this harmful practice is still very high in the province covering 10 districts in far western Nepal, programme coordinator Somraj GC said.
A psychological fear that their stay at home during menstruation would anger the god or invisible power is one of the factors helping to sustain this practice. The study covered school girls from class six to 12.
The study further reveals that some 85 percent girls and women remain deprived of dairy products during their periods while 91 are not allowed to enter kitchen. The number of women following the tradition due to religious and cultural causes is 53 percent.
In Hindu society, menstruating women and girls are considered impure, polluted and thus untouchable; and barred for performing religious and other certain types of activities, including cooking. Chhapaudi which is applied to new mothers in their postnatal period (minimum 10 days) also pervasive in the mid-western and far western Nepal remains as the extreme form of such exclusion.
Various organizations have reached there with public awareness programmes against the Chhaupadi, but goal is still yet to be achieved. Some 60 percent women are unaware of policies taken from the government level to end this practice which rights activists describe an intense form of discrimination against girls and women and a barrier towards the advancement of gender equality.
The government of Nepal criminalized the Chhaupadi in 2017, following its illegalization in 2005. RSS