Women urge for 'brainwashing' along with strict measures against Chhaupadi

Published On: January 20, 2020 10:09 AM NPT By: Jagat Khadka

BAJHANG, Jan 20: Women in Bajhang have urged for programs which not only destroy the menstruation sheds but also change the mindset of people regarding menstruation. Unless this is done, the government's move to do away with the culture of Chhaupadi will not be successful, they warn. "The administration has been focusing on destroying Chhau sheds, our families are not comfortable with the idea of keeping us at home when we bleed. Ultimately, it's us who suffer," said Alakuli Jaisi of Prithivi Municipality – 11. While expressing her views during an interaction organized by the District Administration Office on Sunday, she said that women have been forced to spend days under the open sky since Chhau sheds are fast being dismantled. 

In the last few days, police, along with local activists, have destroyed dozens of Chhau sheds in the district. The administration has also been carrying out awareness campaigns. However, this has not been effective enough to tame the old generations, according to Jaisi. "The problem is the elder people than the younger ones. My father-in-law cannot simply accept it if I stay at home when I menstruate. Other family members support him, they don't support me," she lamented. 

The Chhau culture is widely practiced in Achham, Jumla, and Dolakha, among other parts of the western region. After Parbati Budha Rawat of Achham died in December last year, and police arrested her brother-in-law in connection with the death, the administration turned strict against the culture in the entire region. In the last few weeks, local administrations have taken steps to battle this age old culture. At some places, even shamans have been consulted and urged to join hands so that the campaigns are effective. 

According to CDO of Bajhang, Umesh Pandey, the administration is aware of the need to raise awareness. "Raising awareness is indeed very important. We have been making every effort toward this," he said after listening to women who urged for the same. During the interaction, women had elaborated on the worse situation after the administration destroyed the Chhau sheds.

"Our major focus is the development of infrastructures. And equally important is this battle against Chhau," said Pandey. 

Meanwhile, DSP Ganesh Bam, chief of the district police office, stated that a total of 73 Chhau sheds have been destroyed in different local units of the district in the past few weeks. "This campaign is going on," he said. "We have been supported by youths, women," he added. 

According to mayor of Jayprithivi Municipality, Birendra Bahadur Khadka, civil society leaders are being urged to take the lead in this battle. "It is a matter of faith. We cannot handle it unless we keep the civil society leaders in the forefront. We have to tackle things wisely," he said. "But we have to show people fear of the law as well," he added.

Practicing the Chhaupadi culture attracts fine and a jail term. Those who force someone to live in Chhau sheds and the one who lives in Chhau shed could be jailed for three months and slapped a fine of Rs 3,000 or both. 


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