Kanchanpur continues to isolate menstruating women in shedsKanchanpur continues to banish and isolate menstruating women in sheds, or Chhaupadi, despite Nepal outlawing this repugnant social practice.
Kanchanpur continues to banish and isolate menstruating women in sheds, or Chhaupadi, despite Nepal outlawing this repugnant social practice.
Chhaupadi is a Hindu practice of banishing menstruating women from home and forcing them to stay in an isolated hut or cowshed.
Nepali women, particularly from the far-western region, have long endured the inhuman treatment in the name of tradition. Their tacit acceptance has not helped to set them free from this social ill. Various reasons deter them from ending this practice.
This custom believes a menstruating woman brings bad omen to the family, displeases deities and it is a sin if she stays at home.
Chhaupadi custom also compels a post-natal woman to stay away from home. The custom bans women from entering home and doing routine work. They are deprived of food and milk products during menstruation. They are forced to do heavy work outside home.
Menstruation is a natural biological process every woman goes through once it starts during teens. Hindu society treats menstruating women as impure, pollutant and thus untouchable.
This natural cycle has been misinterpreted and connected to the religion.
Hindu custom prohibits menstruating women from entering the religious sites and performing other rituals.
Shuklaphanta Municipality Deputy Mayor Tulsa Hamal believes stereotypical thinking, superstition, religious biases, public ignorance, gender discrimination, and lack of effective policies continue this harmful social practice.
People should remove this custom from their homes first. Relatively, the range of isolation has decreased. Many families allow menstruating women to stay separately inside the house and to sleep on bed. This has come after dedicated efforts.
“They have compulsion to take bath in river even in chilling cold as they are not allowed to touch taps,” said Tulsa.
Jaba Devi Kami, said women are compelled to spend whole night in fear of attack by wild animals as they have to sleep in a hut that lies far from their house. The daughters-in-law are even facing pain of Chhaupadi from their own mother-in-law,
sister-in-law as compared to their father-in-law, husband and brother-in-law.
There is an old tradition that menstruating female should not attend any religious and social activities as well as she should not go to temple and its surrounding areas. They even should not comb their hair, take bath for three days.
Shuklaphanta Municipality Ward No 11 Chairperson Dil Bahadur Budha said although women social activists have demolished chhaugoth, (the huts where menstruating women stay in isolation) menstruating daughters-in-law continue to suffer this.
Shuklaphanta Municipality Administrative Officer Sher Bahadur Budha, said, “Positive and progressing thinking will help to remove this practice from the society.” Mayor Dil Bahadur Airee said running educational and health related programmes would help wipe out such practices.
He said pressure-exerting programmes would be launched to give justice to the women, who have been compelled to live as second-class citizens because of Chhaupadi custom.
Mayor Airee said they have determined to launch a programme to demolish Chhaupadi along with creating public awareness simultaneously.
Although an Act regarding punishment and fine has been proposed describing discriminatory behaviour during Chhaupadi as a crime legally, it has not been issued yet.
A provision of three-month imprisonment, Rs 3,000 fine or both has been made an Act made to replace the Civil Code if anyone gives recognition to Chhaupadi practice.
Domestic Violence (Crime and Punishment) Act-2066 has a legal provision that no one can do physical, mental, financial and sexual violence to anybody. No action has been taken against anyone under this Act so far.
Establishing an equal society by wiping out all Chhaupadi practice has been mentioned in the objective of Chhaupadi Eradication Directives-2064.