Girls skipping school during menstruation

Bajura, April 6

Kirtichaur Secondary School in Manakot of Gaumul Rural Municipality-5, Bajura, currently has 250 girl students. But, it has been seen that many of the adolescent girls skip their classes at least for five days in a month during menstruation.

Chhaupadi, which is still prevalent in many hilly districts of Province 7, contributes largely to keep schoolgirls away from school during periods. Girls stay at home at least for five days during menstruation. Menstruating girls/women fear that it could bring ill fortune to them, their families and society if they knowingly or unknowingly touched other people.

Girls are considered impure during their periods and they are not allowed to visit temples, holy shrines and schools. The belief is so deep rooted that even if a schoolgirl wants to go to school during her periods, parents do not give permission to do so.

Nanda Kumari Joshi, an eighth grader says she misses her classes for five days during periods. Her parents also advise her to stay at home during the period.

Her classmate Mandevi Joshi has a similar story to share. “Our school has a temple of god on its premises. There are temples of different deities on the way to school also. How can we pass through from there to reach the school?” she said. Her parents also do not let her go to school during periods.

Lack of separate toilets for girls is another factor that keeps girl students at home during menstruation. “It is really difficult to manage the situation at such time,” she said.

Their concern is that school administration and school management committee have turned deaf ears to their requests to build separate toilets for girls.

Absenteeism of school girls is increasing at the school due to lack of separate toilet for girls, no availability of sanitary pads and unfounded beliefs related with menstruation.

School principal Dabal Bahadur Bogati also admits the fact that girls remain absent during menstruation and the school lacks separate toilets for them.

School management committee chair Birendra Bahadur Rokaya said that school did not have land to build separate toilet for girls. He further said that though he knew about the inconvenience faced by girls, he was helpless. “The school has two toilets but just for namesake,” he added.