BAJURA, April 6: Kirtichaur Secondary School based in Manakot of Gaumul Rural Municipality-5 in Bajura has presently 250 girl students. But those who have already entered monthly cycle miss schools at least five days in a month.
False beliefs associated with this natural cycle of female nature continue to dominate the society and people's mindset in Bajura, the district in Province 7. Girls stay away from school at least for first five days during menstruation. Menstruating girls/women fear that it could bring bad omen to their personal lives, families and the society if they knowingly or unknowingly touched temples of deities even while going schools as they are falsely considered impure and thus untouchable as per the Hindu practice. Parents also prevent them from going schools during the monthly period as they are carriers and passers of wrong beliefs about this biological phenomenon attached with female nature.
Eighth grader Nanda Kumari Joshi says she misses her classes for five days while in monthly cycle. Her parents also advise her to stay at home in this period.
Her classmate Mandevi Joshi has a similar story to share. "Our school has a temple of god on its premises. There are temples of different deities on the way to school also. How can we pass through from there to reach the school? We have no separate path for walking so we can avoid touching such holy shrines during menstruation." Her parents also do not let her go to school for first five days in this period.
Lack of separate toilet for girls is another factor that keeps girl students at home during menstruation. "It is really difficult to manage the situation at such time," she said.
Their concern is that school administration and school management committee have turned deaf ears towards their calls for building a girls-friendly toilet.
Lack of separate toilet for girls, no- availability of sanitary pads and construction of temples inside the school continue to force girls to miss school during the menstrual period which reflects that how stakeholders concerned are gender-insensitive.
School principal Dabal Bahadur Bogati also admits the fact girl students remain absent during menstruation and the school lacks gender-friendly structure including separate toilets for them.
School management committee chair Birendra Bahadur Rokaya says school lacks land to build separate toilet for girls, adding though he is aware of inconveniences facing girls due to girls-friendly structures. The school has two toilets, but just for the namesake, he added. ---