‘Chhaupadi-free’ village still follows repealed tradition

Bajura, October 15

Although declared a ‘chhaupadi-free’ village, women and girls of Kolti-4, Jailu, including schoolchildren and anti-chhaupadi campaigners, are still forced to continue the tradition of living in a chhaupadi shed during menstruation.

Sunatkali Bohora, who leads the campaign that dissuades women from living in chhaupadi sheds during menstruation, admitted that even she is forced to follow this inhumane practice. “Although I work very hard to repeal this practice from the village, my own family makes me live in a dingy shed during my periods for fear of inciting the wrath of the gods,” she said.

“We had declared our village ‘chhaupadi-free’ with the support of a non-government organisation and the Village Development Committee, but the declaration has been limited to paper only,” she added.

Eighteen-year-old Bimala Bohora of the same VDC has been following this practice for the last three years. The twelfth-grader said that although she is aware of the fact that this practice was only a product of superstition and patriarchy, her family would not accept it if she deviated from the tradition.

An eighth-grader Sushila Bohora of the village said she was afraid of having to live amidst insects and snakes in dingy, unhygienic sheds, but it was almost impossible to uproot the strong belief of villagers that not doing so would invite wrath of the gods.

Even educated women, health workers, and rights activists in the village have not been able to break this tradition in the village.

As many as seven VDCs namely Budhiganga, Jayabageshwori, Barhabisa, Kuldevmandau, Kailashmandau, Atichaur, and Brahmatola of Bajura district have been declared chhaupadi-free. A few wards of other VDCs too have been declared chhaupadi-free.