77pc women stay in chhaupadi sheds during menstruation: Report

Surkhet, August 25

Seventy-seven per cent women in Karnali province are compelled to stay in chhaupadi sheds during menstruation.

A study report shows that 28 per cent menstruating girls miss schools. Action Works Nepal, an organisation working against chhaupadi system, stated that despite having knowledge that exclusion of women and girls from home during periods is a social evil, the number of women practising this harmful custom is still very high in the province, which includes 10 districts in far western part of the country, said programme coordinator Somraj GC.

A belief that staying at home during menstruation would displease the god or invisible power and fear of facing bad luck are deep rooted even among educated girls, which has made it difficult for the organisation and government bodies working in this field to eradicate chhaupadi from society. The study covered school girls from Grade six to 12.

The study further reveals that some 85 per cent girls and women remain deprived of dairy products during their periods while 91 are not allowed to enter kitchen. The number of women practising chhuapadi due to religious and cultural causes is 53 per cent.

In Hindu society, menstruating women and girls are considered impure, polluted and thus untouchable; and barred for performing religious and cooking. Chhaupadi, which is applied to new mothers in their postnatal period (minimum 10 days) is also pervasive in the mid-western and far western parts.

Various organisations have reached there with public awareness programmes against chhaupadi, but they haven’t been able to do anything substantial till date. Some 60 per cent women are unaware of polices introduced by the government  to eradicate  this evil practice which rights activists describe as an intense form of discrimination against girls and women and a barrier towards the advancement of gender equality.

The government of Nepal had criminalised chhaupadi in 2017.