Signature campaign against Chhau culture at police stations

Published On: January 12, 2020 09:09 AM NPT By: DB BUDHA

JUMLA, Jan 12: Initiatives to end the ill tradition of Chhaupadi (keeping women in isolated sheds during menstruation) now includes a signature collection campaign at police posts in Jumla. Led by the police and public jointly, this campaign is gaining a momentum. According to Police Inspector Krishna Hari Khadka, in-charge of Rarahil Police Post, a growing number of people have been supporting the campaign. Those who come to the police station for service also show curiosity to the matter and drop their signatures with or without getting engaged in discussions. 

"We have to raise awareness. When people are made aware, they stand against ill practices," he said. "We not only try to make the people aware about Chhaupadi but the entire concept of human rights and freedom," he added. 

Inspector Khadka further added that they endorse the statement which reads – "We do not believe in Chhaupadi, we will not force women to follow it." 

The campaign is going on effectively in Sija, Hima, Kanakasundari, Tila, Tatopani, Guthichaur and Patarasi municipalities. Different police units have been taking care of the campaign. "The Chhau culture is very common in those rural municipalities. So, there is a need for such campaigns in those places," said Inspector Khadka. "But what's pleasing is people are taking this move quite positively," he added. 

According to him, it is more important to monitor things at the houses of influential people than that of lowly educated and ignorant families.  

"We are going strict against the practice of Chhaupadi. If it is learnt that the ill practice is being followed at the houses of civil society leaders, teachers, bureaucrats, journalists, local representatives, politicians, businesspersons, we take the matter even more seriously. Police have been deployed in plain clothes to check this," Khadka said. "As soon as they are found to be practicing the Chhaupadi culture, a case is registered straight away and further process is followed," he added. 

Following the death of Parbati Budha Rawat, 21, in Achham on December 2, the government had geared up for strict measures against the Chhau culture. While the brother-in-law of the deceased Rawat, who died in a Chhau shed, was arrested by police as the first ever arrest in connection to this culture, local administrations were directed to take due steps to bring the practice to an end. 

The signature campaign has basically motivated women. According to Inspector Khadka, while men have to be convinced and discussion goes on for long whether Chhau culture is good or bad, women are keener to do away with the practice. The signature campaign, that kicked off a few days ago has seen a bigger number of women participants than men. "Most women have been following the tradition due to the fear of being targeted by their family and society rather than because of their own will. Regarding men, they do not seem that sensitive towards women's problems. It takes a real engagement to convince some men that this culture is illegal and inhumane," he said. 

Chief District Officer of Jumla, Durga Banjade, had recently ordered all the police in-charges in the district to take serious measures against the practice of Chhaupadi. 

The Chhau culture is prevalent in western districts including Surkhet, Achham and Dadeldhura.


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