Banished For Bleeding: Nepal Criminalises Period Hut Practice
While sometimes we might feel like hiding away from the world when we’re on our period, this was a practise forced upon girls and women each month in Nepal – until recently.
The custom of chhaupadi, which is effectively a menstrual isolation, stems from Hindu scriptures and a belief that menstruating women can bring bad luck to the family and hinder crop growth too. A new law passed on 10th August 2017 by the government has criminalised this practise and, here at Pink Parcel, we’re welcoming this change in legislation.
Chhaupadi can take various forms, but often women are exiled during their period, or just after giving birth, and forced to sleep in a hut or shed outside their home.
“Anyone forcing women into seclusion during their period can now be sentenced to three months in jail,” said Krishna Bhakta Pokharel, who headed up a parliamentary panel that implemented the new law. In addition, perpetrators can also be fined up to 3,000 rupees (which equates to roughly £23).
Recently, there have been a series of new bills passed by the Nepalese government with the aim to integrate modern and traditional laws.
The change in this particular law follows the highly publicised deaths of two young women who died as a result of being banished during their periods. One woman suffered a deadly snakebite while staying in her shed, while a 15 year old died from smoke inhalation after her hut caught fire in her attempts to stay warm.
Sandhya Chaulagain, who works with WaterAid Nepal, was quoted by the Guardian last year as saying: “It is really difficult dealing with the older people in communities that follow [these] norms, so we are focusing our programme on youth, as they are the change-makers and future elders.”
Following this positive shift, let’s hope that Nepal, and other developing countries around the world, will move towards a future where periods are no longer a taboo.
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