ACHHAM: Following the death of a woman inside a menstrual hut in Achham, a campaign began in the district to bring down the ‘chhau’ huts.
Locals, local representatives, security personnel, along with social leaders have taken the initiative to destroy the menstrual huts in addition to spreading awareness against the practice of banishing women and girls to such “shelters” outside their homes.
Parbati Budha Rawat, 21, died inside a chhau hut in Siddheshwar, Sanphebagar Municipality-3 of Achham district in early December. The incident, which gathered media attention and much criticism, also gave an urgency to take serious action to prevent such occurrences.
With the intention to end the chhaupadi system — in which menstruating girls and women are sent out of their homes to live in small huts and sheds for five to seven days, despite weather conditions and other dangers — the campaign to demolish chhau huts began in the district through a community-police partnership programme.
As many as 1,152 menstrual huts have been destroyed in the district so far after Budha’s death, stated information officer at District Police Office, Achham, Police Inspector Ramesh Datta Awasthi. The campaign was initiated with the participation of police personnel, locals, local representatives, social workers, community women, women’s group, mothers’ group, and journalists.
During the span of a decade, 14 women in Achham and three in Bajura have lost their lives in chhau huts. Majority of such deaths were caused due to suffocation, snakebite, and fire.
The chhaupadi system spread deep roots in many districts of western and far-western region such as Bajura, Achham, Doti, Bajhang, Mugu, Kalikot, Baitadi, Dailekh, among others.
In addition to destroying the huts, people were also made aware of the legal provisions connected with this social ill practice, added information officer Awasthi.
The Supreme Court, in 2062 BS (2005), declared chhaupadi as a social ill practice. The government issued a directive in 2064 BS (2007) for the eradication of the practice. In the newly enacted Criminal Code-2074 BS, chhaupadi has been declared a criminal offence.
(Translated by Priyanka Adhikari)