Males also face restrictions when women menstruate

Kathmandu, June 12

Chhaupadi Pratha, is a social tradition in different parts of the country, which prohibits women from participating in normal family activities during menstruation, as they are considered ‘impure’. It is believed that the tradition existed in the western parts of the country, but in reality it is prevalent not only in the rural areas among uneducated people, but also in the urban  area within the educated circles.

When a girl faces her menstrual cycle, her family, and community see her as impure and put a restriction on her regular activities such as food intake, freedom to travel, speak, worship the gods etc. However, in actuality, it is not only the females who suffer, but also the male members of the family along with their mother, sisters, wife, daughters at home. They too have to face restrictions, though they fail to recognise these restrictions. Forty-year-old Sabitri (name changed) of Kathmandu, who sits in the corner of the room on the floor was guiding her 12-year-old son to put necessary ingredients required for cooking curry from a distance inside the same room. It was her second day of menstrual cycle and she believed that she shouldn’t cook food as she was afraid something wrong would happen in her life if she cooked.

Likewise, Bikash (name changed) from Kathmandu said he had to cancel the grand puja of the inauguration of his home because his wife had become impure two day before the puja. The belief that there is impurity in the house during the menstrual period has restricted not only females but also males. Bikash says he has to go home earlier to cook food when his wife menstruates every month.

“Not only Bikash there are many people in the city who suffer the same condition as him when their female partners have their periods. Men, too have to face restriction along with women, as the son has to stay with his mother when he is a child when the mother is menstruating. A man cannot sleep with his wife in rural areas, is restricted in his food intake etc,” said Radha Paudel, an activist for menstrual rights. She said, males are unaware about the restrictions they have to face if they are compel the women to stay in the Chhau house. “Chhaupadi Pratha is not only prevalent in rural areas, but in the cities as well and some say, even in foreign countries, wherever Nepalese reside.”

Males, who never raised their voice to stop such a superstitious belief and unjust practice, also have to suffer. “There are hidden aspects of male restrictions in society, but they have never tried to speak about it in public. It is true that females still hide their problems and don’t speak out, but such issues should be raised by the males also so that the country can maintain equality among the sexes,” said Tika Dahal, Vice-president of National Federation of Disabled, Nepal.