Kathmandu, December 24
The Ministry of Home Affairs today issued a three-point circular to all district administration offices of Karnali and Sudurpaschim provinces directing them to initiate stringent action against anyone who encourages or practises Chhaupadi.
Under-secretary Umakanta Adhikari at Peace, Security and Crime Control Section of the MoHA told THT that DAOs were told to form a mechanism comprising chief district officer, district government attorney and district police chief with immediate effect to act tough against the worst form of gender-based violence.
“The government will now bring to book any person who practises or encourage others to practise Chhaupadi, which is a punishable crime. The MoHA has directed DAOs to eliminate the superstition and taboos associated with menstruation, which is a normal biological process,” he said.
In a bid to fur ther strengthen the drive to discourage this practice, the MoHA has also tasked the mechanism led by CDO to deprive the people, who practise and encourage Chhaupadi, of social security allowances and facility of subsidised loan. “Members of a household and other persons who banish women or girls from their homes during menstruation will be deemed ineligible to enjoy senior citizen allowance, other social security schemes and subsidised loan,” Under-secretary Adhikari said.
The district-level mechanism has also been tasked to identify and destroy all chhau sheds. Though the Supreme Court ruled Chhaupadi illegal in 2005, it is still prevalent in parts of Karnali and Sudurpashim provinces. During the mensuration cycle, women are forced to stay in specifically designated huts which lack basic facilities like beds, heating and sanitation, among others.
As many as 15 girls and women died in chhau sheds in the past 13 years in Achham and Dailekh districts, according to a report released by the National Human Rights Commission on March 14.
Chhaupadi is linked to Hinduism. As per Chhaupadi practice, women are considered impure when they menstruate and during post-natal state. The penal code also criminalises Chhaupadi.
The new law stipulates a three-month jail sentence or Rs 3,000 fine, or both, for anyone who forces a woman to follow the ill-practice.
A version of this article appears in print on December 24, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.