Every year, numerous countries, including Nepal, join the 16-day international campaign of activism against gender-based violence, and at the same time, some remote villages in western Nepal continue to lose women and girls because of a Centennial tradition called chhaupadi.
On December 1, 2019, 21-year-old Parwati Budha appeared dead in a small, unventilated menstruation hut in the Achham district of western Nepal, after being removed from her home for having the period. Police suspect that he died of suffocation caused by excessive smoke from repeated attempts to heat his refuge in the icy night. More than 15 girls have lost their lives in the last decade because of this bad practice.
Despite laws that have criminalized Chhaupadi, the tradition still stands, emboldened by a society that is deeply trained in patriarchal notions. Any defiance on the woman’s part is immediately met with social ostracisation. https://t.co/IsHQoOmXB2
– Pawan Pandey (@ paw_001) November 24, 2019
Our songs from the jungle.
Find the freedom of menstrual taboos in the lap of nature.
Despite the laws that criminalize chhaupadi, tradition remains, encouraged by a society deeply rooted in patriarchal notions. Any challenge on the part of women is punished immediately with social isolation.
Chhaupadi is a form of menstrual taboo that prohibits practicing Hinduists from participating in habitual family activities while menstruating. During their period, women are considered “impure” and are forced to live alone in huts or stables. They are not allowed to enter their home, deal with their family – especially men – and are prohibited from accessing temples. They are not allowed to consume milk, yogurt, butter, meat and other nutritious foods, they cannot use warm blankets in the winter months and are only allowed to use a small blanket.
During menstruation, women who observe chhaupadi live in poorly constructed, poorly hygienic and unventilated shacks. These women face life-threatening risks, such as diarrhea, pneumonia and respiratory diseases. They also face the threat of attacks from wild animals, and even attacks and rapes.
Discrimination during menstruation is illegal and inhuman. 44% of women in Nepal’s remote mid & far west face this every month.
– DFID Nepal (@DFIDNepal) November 27, 2019
Discrimination during menstruation is illegal and inhuman. 44% of Nepali women in the most remote western areas suffer from it every month.
We will take advantage of the next 16 days of activism to use the data and talk about gender violence in Nepal.
This practice has been highly criticized, as it violates the basic human rights of women because of the physical and mental trauma that inflicts them.
The Nepalese Supreme Court banned the custom of chhaupadi in 2005, but it is still practiced, and women continue to die year after year, although unfortunately many cases go unnoticed. In August 2017, the country was forced to announce a new law after a series of deaths of women practicing Chhaupadi who received great media attention. Under the new law, anyone who forces a woman to follow this custom will be sentenced to three months in prison, a fine of 3000 rupees ($ 30) or both. However, none of these penalties have ever been imposed. Despite its criminalization, the practice still exists today because of illiteracy, superstition and community support.
Some reports indicate that many representatives of the people, human rights activists and teachers participate in this criminalized practice in various areas of the Nepalese districts of Achham, Bajura and Bajhang.
Such a sad sad reality of the society that we live in where women have to lose their life just because they menstruate, they are discriminated just because of their normal biological cycle ?# 16daysofactivism #Menstruation #Chhaupadi #GBV
– SOCHAI Youth For Nutrition (@Sochai_YFN) December 2, 2019
How many more women are going to enter this list?
A sad reality of the society in which we live, where women lose their lives just because they menstruate, are discriminated against only by their normal biological cycle.
Tradition is stronger than the law
The Parwati case did not receive so much attention from the affected institutions or the media. Several campaigns and awareness programs have been launched before, but the effort has not been enough to end this problem. The Abolition of chhaupadi project in the western regions of Nepal, funded by the United Nations Women and implemented by the ONGI Restless Development It states that the program reached more than 45,000 women and reduced the proportion of women and girls confined to a chhaupadi hut from 19.4% to 5.5%. However, girls like Parwati continue to die every year.
The task of eradicating chhaupadi demands the will to act in a range of political areas. In addition, the law must show zero tolerance so that it can be effectively implemented. The participation and collaboration of various actors from the public and private sectors, public education by human rights organizations, awareness campaigns and support for victims is also necessary.
Rewati Raman Bhandari, a former lawgiver and signatory of the draft law that criminalizes the chhaupadi, declared that the tradition seems to be stronger than the law, since “the offensive to eradicate the practice – from the locals, the police and politicians locals – it still went too unnoticed. ”
to the https://t.co/3J1vMggRHH
– Heem S. Shakya (@heemshakya) November 24, 2019
Chhaupadi continues to prevail in many parts of Nepal. For seven days every month, women are confined in shacks called chhaugoths while their menstruation lasts. This photographic documentary tries to take a look at your world. https://tkpo.st/2OcaAV9 – by Uma Bista.
We must act to end the practice of chhaupadi in Nepal.
Despite legal reforms and women rights advocacy, social ills of Chhaupadi is continuous taking lives of Nepali girls / women. A serious issue to address. https://t.co/4SZgL9nwJD
– Narayan Ghimire (@naran_ghimire) December 2, 2019
Parvati died in the camp.
Despite legal reforms and the vindication of women's rights, chhaupadi cancer continues to take lives of Nepalese women and girls. A serious problem to deal with.