Leaders and activists living in chhaupadi sheds

BAJURA, July 23

Women activists, who have been launching campaigns aiming to abolish the practice of chhaupadi, have been found to be living in isolation in sheds meant for domestic animals shed during menstruation, in Bajura.

“It is obvious that it is a widespread social evil. It is an outcome of conservative mindset. But what to do, we don’t have any other option but to stay separately, away from our house during our periods, when we are in the village,” lamented UCPN-Maoist district Treasurer Binita BK.

Binita, who fought for a decade against the tradition, said that she had no option but to compromise for the sake of society.

Women leaders and Women Rights Protection Network Bajura Chairperson Parbati Budha lives in a hut away from her house. “We organise various programmes against chhaupadi. We advocate women rights. We say that women should not stay in the shed. But, we are compelled to live in the shed ourselves,” regretted Budha.

Similar is the saga of Women Rights’ Forum Barhabisha VDC Chairperson Janaki Rawal. They argued that society would look down upon them and even worse, boycott them if they stayed in their houses during their monthly menstruation period.

“We are compelled to stay away from our house in order to please the deity. It is wrongly believed that the deity becomes displeased if we stay inside our residence during the period,” bemoaned the women.

Various organisations and forums to raise voice against the tradition have been organised in the district, but in vain.

Meanwhile, Deepak Sah, a senior assistant health worker at District Health Office, said that scores of women employees at various health facilities of the district follow chhaupadi.

Some female teachers and students do not attend school during their monthly periods in Bajura. Many girls and women have faced various threats, including rape, attack by wild animals and snakebite along with lack of nutritious food during the period. They are also not allowed to go to different public places.