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Menstruation practices in far west Nepal

Posted on August 13, 2015 at 1:25 PM

Many Nepalese women face a discriminatory practice during their menstruation, popularly known as Chhaupadi

practice. In the Far-West, adolescent girls and women are confined in a small hut (‘chhau hut’) or livestock

quarters, as they are considered impure. The chhaupadi practice is a social tradition that prevents women from

participating in normal family or communal activities during their menstruation. A similar practice is prevalent

during childbirth and for the following 11 days or so (with obvious health risks). Many women believe that if they

don’t follow these practices, their families will blame them for all harm that may befall them or their livestock.

The duration and harshness of the chhaupadi varies geographically (but is more pronounced in the Far West

Nepal districts), and is often coupled with other traditional practices (related to diet during periods and

pregnancy, such as avoiding milk products) which have an adverse impact on the health and nutritional status of

reproductive aged women and girls. One of the main concerns for any WASH-related project is that menstruating

women are not allowed to use the same water resources and sanitation facilities as other family or community

members, which can result in poor and unsafe personal hygiene.

The conditions of the chhaupadi huts are very basic in most cases (see photos below). Rather than being an

opportunity to rest and have quality time with other women, they can even be dangerous. We have witnessed

cases of disabled women dying alone in the huts (eg. one last year who suffered an epileptic fit and kicked the

fire, leading to serious burns and death). Some women have also been raped while isolated.

That’s not to say that all women object to using them. During the Maoist insurgency, many chhaupadi huts were

destroyed under duress. However, in some areas women have reverted to build and use the huts again. Some

women have commented that they feel uncomfortable staying with the house for religious reasons

Categories: Nepal, The Kingdom Worker Ministry


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