JUMLA, JAN 4: Fourteen years ago, the Cabinet decided to declare Chhaupadi as a malpractice. But the decision couldn't be implemented effectively, leaving behind the women of Karnali and far- western Nepal to suffer in the name of the age-old tradition. In the name of tradition, what weren't they deprived of? Nutritious food, proper rest, you name it.
Discrimination against and injustice to women that were to be subsided escalated even more which led the Ministry of Home affairs to take some steps. On 25th of last December, the ministry sent a letter to the local administration for complete eradication of the practice.
The circular from the home ministry talks about forming a mechanism led by the chief district officer including the head of the district attorney office and the head of the district police office.
As per the direction of the home ministry, the District Administration Office organized a huge gathering which saw the participation of representatives from government offices, security forces, civil society leaders and different organizations. A commitment banner containing the slogan “We don't follow Chhaupadi” was written in the center and as its validation, the red, blue and green hand prints could be seen in the blank space around the slogan. The participants also formed a human chain in the shape of Nepali flag giving a clear message that a great campaign against Chhaupadi had begun.
It was declared that not only Chhau sheds but sheds of illiteracy and darkness will be dismantled too. The local artists and students performed anti-Chhaupadi deuda song, drama and poem. Chhaupadi eradication agency informed that with this mega campaign, women will be assured of equal paternal rights, safe motherhood and reproduction by ending practices like Chhaupadi which fosters gender disparity.
The Criminal Code 2074 along with other laws sees Chhaupadi as a serious offense. In this regard, Chief District Officer of Jumla Durga Banjade said, “Since Chhaupadi is a crime, anyone who follows it or compels other to follow it will not be spared. Similarly, they will be deprived of the social security allowances, elderly allowancess and easy loan services provided by government.” She further said that she will collaborate with the local units too to make Jumla a Chhaupadi-free district which in turn will upgrade women's life standard and contribute to violence-free society.”
Superintendent of Police, Rajendra Bahadhur Chand, said, “Chhaupadi today has become what the Sati tradition in the past used to be like. Due to the superstitious belief that if a woman in her menstrual period comes across a fruit-laden tree, its fruits will be destroyed and it will be an offense to the god, women are forced to live in cattle sheds. But strong legal action against the firm believers of Chhaupadi will be taken from now on.”
Dr Sharmila Shrestha of Karnali Academy of Health Sciences (KAHS) said, “This mega campaign against Chhaupadi will surely facilitate in raising awareness about the adverse effects on women's health due to Chhaupadi.”