ACHHAM, July 13: Most of the female relatives of the girls and women who lost their lives in Chhaupadi sheds are still supporting the malpractice. Despite losing relatives to confinement in animal sheds during menstruation, female family members of the deceased are giving continuity to the tradition by sleeping isolated in sheds during menstruation, it has been found.
Some of the women have lost their daughters, daughters-in-law and sisters. However, the ill-tradition seems to be so deep-rooted that even deaths could not discourage them from continuing with the malpractice. Despite losses, teenage girls as well as women are still practicing the chaupadi system due to family pressure and respect for the tradition.
Six years ago, Laxmi Budha of Dhakari in Accham district, who was just 16 then, died in a Chhaupadi shed after it caught fire while she was asleep. While her family and villagers destroyed the shed following her death, they still have not been able to get rid of the feeling that something bad would happen if women are allowed to stay home during their menstruation.Following Laxmi's death, her mother and sisters have continued spend their days in sheds during their menstruation. The only difference made by her death is that the family does not have own menstruation shed and go to stay in the sheds of their neighbors during menstruation.
A Chhaupadi shed-free campaign promoted by non-governmental organizations too has not made much difference. While such campaigns have destroyed some Chhaupadi huts, it has failed to change the mentality. In the lack of sheds, women have been giving continuity to the tradition even by setting up tarpaulins under the open sky, shared Sauri BK, a local of Dhakari.
Dilu Tiruwa of Gajra had lost her 15-year old daughter Roshani about one-and-a-half years ago. Her daughter had died of suffocation in a menstruation hut. After the death of her daughter, she destroyed the hut and started living inside the house for a while even during menstruation. However, she started to live in the shed during menstruation shortly thereafter.“Although I spent the first two menstruation periods at home after the death of my daughter, my mother-in-law protested the move. So I had to go back to the shed again,” she said.