Nepal | July 02, 2020

Humla women giving birth in cowsheds

Prakash Singh
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New mother with baby in Humla

A new mother holds her baby inside a cowshed, where they stay for a month after the baby is born, in Maila VDC of Humla district, on Tuesday, January 26, 2016. Photo: Prakash Singh/ THT

Humla, January 26

The family of 24-year-old Dudhari Dhami of remote Maila VDC took her to a cowshed after she complained of labour pain a week ago in Humla.

She gave birth to her newborn in the shed with the help of a neighbour and has been forced to stay in the shed for a month.

Similar is the case of Nani Budha of the VDC.

Her family members allowed her to enter the house only after she spent a month in the shed.

According to Maila Health Post In-charge Devi Lal Sunar, new mothers of remote Maila, Shreenagar, Kalika, Jaiyar and Madena, among other VDCs, are kept in sheds for a month.

“Majority of local pregnant women do not go to health centres for delivery.

Even if some women go to the health centres to give birth, they are forced to stay in the shed for at least a month,” said Sunar.

Woman activist Dhan Rupa Joshi said the locals did not want to discontinue their age-old tradition for fear that the deities would be displeased.

“Even when women complain of various health complications, including dizziness, fever and nausea, they have no option but to stay in the sheds,” said Joshi.

The new mothers are also deprived of nutritious food besides having to stay in the sheds for a month.

“I have persistently tried to convince the locals to end the practice for more than two years now, but in vain,” said Joshi.

The new mothers are allocated separate taps for washing and bathing.

According to the locals, the trend prevails in almost districts of the far-west region.

Though various governmental and non-governmental organisations have been working to raise awareness about maternal and infant health, pregnant women continue to suffer due to their family members superstitious beliefs.


A version of this article appears in print on January 27, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.


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