Menstruation still continues to be a taboo in Nepal, despite several ill practices being outlawed by the Supreme Court of Nepal in 2005. In spite of many protests, the ill practices for this moment still remain in the country, more extreme than in the West. Better known in Nepal as, ‘Chhaupadi’ (menstrual shed), this menstrual taboo has caused women and girls to be exposed to health risks, and disengage from family activities, and daily routines. If you may not be aware of the term ‘Chhaupadi’, it originated from the western parts of the country, sprouting through superstitions and myths. People from some Far-West districts believe that menstruation causes women to be impure temporarily.
Bhawani Thapa, 17, from Baluwatar is not allowed to enter kitchen, and worship when during her period because she is considered 'impure' and 'untouchable'. While medical science reports sleep disturbance during the menstrual cycle for girls and women, Bhawani cannot go to her bed after menstruation. Leaving her bed, which is uneasy for many, she has to find an alternative. Born and brought up in a well-off family in the heart of Kathmandu, Bhawani must strictly adhere to her 'family values' as ordered by her mother and grandmother. However, she is unable to share her suffering. She says: “I know it is a bad practice, but I am still forced to obey simply to respect my mom and grandma."
That Chhaupadi system—whereby girls and women are secluded during menstruation for days and are forced to live in dangerous sheds—is a human cruelty is no brainer. This has resulted in huge social, psychological and physical harm on women. They have suffered isolation, poor hygiene, sexual abuse and even deaths while adhering to this extremely harmful traditional practice.
KATHMANDU, Feb 23: The government has intensified a campaign against Chhaupadi (a cultural practice that banishes menstruating women and new mothers from homes for certain days) mostly pervasive in some districts in the mid-west and far-west of Nepal.
Hindson Bethan (2009) mentions that menstruation taboos universally prevailed up to the mid-twentieth century in the world although anthropologists and historians did not make these taboos the subject of research until recently. Likewise, M Guterman and others (2007) provide that major religions of the world, without exception, have placed restrictions on menstruating women. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism have made statements about menstruation and its negative effect on women, leading to prohibitions about physical intimacy, cooking, attending places of worship, and sometimes requiring women to live separately from men.
KATHMANDU, Jan 23: A team led by Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizens Parbat Gurung has reached Dailekh to inspect the government campaign against Chhaupadi tradition [banishing menstruating women to a shed] on Tuesday.
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.
JUMLA, Jan 19: After the local administration launched a campaign to make the district free of Chhaupadi sheds (menstruation sheds), the region's shamans, too, have started supporting the movement against the "bad practice". They are also against Chhaupadi, which the government has already declared as a bad practice.
BHIMDUTTANAGAR, Jan 15: People-elected representatives and police administration have jointly taken ahead of a campaign for demolishing chhaugoths – cowsheds where women and girls are secluded during their periods.
DOTI, Jan 14: Twenty-eight chhaugoths have been demolished at one ward alone of Badikedar rural municipality under the campaign to demolish chhaugoths. Chhaugoth is a separate, poorly ventilated, hut where menstruating women are made to stay for at least the first five to seven days.
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.
JUMLA, Jan 9: Chhau sheds (menstruation hut) are being dismantled in western Nepal following strict directive from the government to end the malpractice of banishing women to such sheds during their periods. However, uprooting this tradition does not seem that easy in Jumla. Unlike other districts where Chhaupadi tradition is in practice, chhau sheds are not built outside the houses here. Instead, girls and women in Jumla are forced to share space with cattle at the sheds meant for cows and goats when they bleed.
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.
KATHMANDU, Dec 29: It is going to be interesting to watch how the battle against Chhaupadi will unfold in the days to come because the government has decided to take the tough battle to the end this time. Apart from the arrest of a relative of a woman who died at a Chhaugoth (menstruation shed) two weeks ago, the government has announced that those who continue to practice it will be behind bars and will also be deprived of social security allowances and services.
Globally, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is celebrated every year on 25 November. On this occasion, the United Nations launched sixteen days of activism to advocate for gender equality and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls. Statistically, Nepal falls at the bottom on gender equality index and more than one in five women have experienced some form (physical, mental, sexual) of violence in their lifetime.
KATHMANDU, Dec 15: In the aftermath of the first menstrual death arrest in Achham, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has instructed all stakeholders concerned in the Chhaupadi practicing districts to enforce the criminal code that criminalizes Chhaupadi.
Hearing stories of women having to undergo strange ‘rituals’ and ‘rules’ just because they get periods always upsets me. When I first learned about ‘Chhaupadi’ and ‘Gufa prathas’ during a middle school social studies class, I was appalled by the fact that the society would punish women to either live out of their houses – in dangerous conditions – or lock them in a room, not letting them see the sun at all for something that is only natural and also completely out of their control.
This is not meant to disrespect any culture or tradition, but to address the level of awkwardness and discomfort experienced by women. Haven’t we moved forward enough in the world to not scrutinize women who may be having their period?
KATHMANDU, March 24: A parliamentary committee has been found to be preparing a field report on Chhaupadi deaths without any of its members visiting the incident site in the district of Bajura despite spending two days in the district headquarters, Martadi.
KATHMANDU, March 6: In the meeting of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the lawmakers discussed on strict implementation of the law and launch of special campaigns from federal to local levels to end chhaupadi system.
DOTI, Feb 1: On January 19, a woman and her two sons died of asphyxiation when the menstrual hut they were sheltering in caught fire while they were asleep. Amba Bohora, 35, along with her sons Suresh, 9, and Ramit, 7, died a tragic death, shocking many.
JUMLA, Sept 29: Tila Rural Municipality of Jumla has put in place strict rules and policies against the representatives and locals promoting and practicing the ill-traditions of Chhaupadi and untouchability.
SURKHET, Aug 23: A year ago, Bedraj Bhandari of Panchpuri Municipality-10 was elected as a ward member during the local polls. Being an elected representative, his responsibility is to take initiatives to abolish ill practices and traditions of society. Instead of discouraging people to continue Chhaupadi, Bhandari has not been able to demolish the menstrual hut in his very own home.
DOTI, July 17: While deaths from chhaupadi shelters in the western region have not ceased to make headlines, initiatives taken to counter the culture are dwarfed in front of its root cause- fear of their kuldevta (clan deity). ‘They can stand death of their girls and women’ but cannot anger their clan deity, activists working in the sector share. Strong faith in their clan deity and fear of repercussion of angering the deity among the locals suggests that the solution to uproot the practice of chhaupadi is hard to come by.
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.
SURKHET, June 25: Anita Sharma of Chaukune Rural Municipality-6, Bhabar is a 12th grader in a local school. She got married three years ago. Being a student, she is well aware that it's not right to stay in Chhaupadi sheds during periods. But still she is compelled to stay there for five days of menstruation due to the fear of 'angering' the gods.
ACHHAM, April 4: In order to end the traditional ill practice of Chhaupadi, women in Nandegada, Mellekh-7 of Achham have started demolishing the menstrual huts where they were compelled to stay during their periods.
KANCHANPUR, March 2: Chhaupadhi custom, a harmful Hindu practice that banishes women from home during menstruation, forcing them to stay in an isolated hut or cowshed, is still pervasive in Kanchanpur, despite its criminalization last year.
BAJHANG, Dec 22: With the aim of eradicating Chhaupadi, the women of Dhamile, Jaya Prithvi Municipality-11, have launched a campaign to ostracize those families in the area that practice or encourage Chhaupadi.
KANCHANPUR, Dec 19: In an effort to end Chhaupadi, a campaign has been launched to dismantle Chhaupadi sheds in the district. Chhaupadi is an outlawed ancient Hindu practice that banishes women to a shed during menstruation and after childbirth deeming them impure.
KATHMANDU, Nov 15: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday issued an order to the government authorities to bring forth an action plan to end chhaupadi, a superstitious practice forcing women and girls to live in cowsheds during menstruation.
Just the thought of chhaupadi makes us shudder. I am sure you know of women in western Nepal—in Doti, Accham, Bajura, Kailali, Dailekh, Bajhang, Baitadi and Dadeldhura districts—are forced to live in small, cold, damp and unhygienic sheds in the woods, or in animal sheds or mud huts that are completely separate from the house, for five days every month when they are menstruating
KATHMANDU, Aug 9: The Legislature Parliament passed the Criminal Code 2074 on Wednesday.
The Parliament brought the new code in order to update the criminal law which was earlier based on the amendment of Civil Code-2021.
DAILEKH, July 29: The government's failure to implement the Supreme Court (SC) order against the Chhaupadi practice has given continuity to the social evil in Dailekh district where violence against women is highly prevalent. Incidents of women dying in cowsheds while practicing Chhaupadi are on the rise in the district due to the government's failure to implement the apex court's instruction to eradicate the practice.
BAJHANG, June 14: Some women in Bajhang have announced that they will vote for candidates in the upcoming local level elections who express commitment to end the tradition of chhaupadi. They have openly forwarded this demand to mayoral candidates of Maoists (Center), CPN-UML and Nepali congress, among other political parties, during the latter’s door to door election campaign.