Bajura, January 11
Following the latest chhaupadi-related deaths in which a menstruating mother, along with her sons, died of asphyxiation in Bajura’s Budhinanda Municipality, the locals today pulled down the chhau shed in which they died.
Thirty-five-year-old Amba Bohora and her sons Suresh and Ramit, aged nine and seven respectively, died from asphyxiation in a chhaupadi shed where they had slept by burning a fire to ward off cold at night in Aungaunpani, in Bajura’s Budhinanda Municipality-9 on Tuesday night.
The chhaupadi shed was used by women of some 10 families in the vicinity to live in seclusion during menstruation. Ward chairperson Khadga Bohora of Budhinanda Municipality-9, among other locals, demolished the shed today.
There are three more chhau sheds in other villages of the same ward.Just in the neighbouring village, Hajari Dhami, 24, has also been staying in a chhaupadi shed. Her monthly cycle started some three days ago and she will have to spend two more days in the shed.
Her mother-in-law Dhauli came out of the shed today itself. “Nobody likes to stay away from home, especially during the cold nights, but we don’t have any other option in the face of the deep-rooted belief and fear of god,” Dhauli said.
Ward chair Bohora said the locals were not willing to give away the traditional practice altogether.
“As there are still other chhaupadi sheds in my ward, I’m doing the needful to convince the women here to stop this ill-practice and pull down the remaining sheds as well,” said the ward chairperson.
It is important to note that the ward was declared chhaupadi shed-free about three years ago.
“As the people are yet to be aware of the ills of chhaupadi practice, little has changed,” said local teacher Puskar Nepali, adding, “The abolition of the system is limited to paper only, while women are still losing their lives.”
A version of this article appears in print on January 12, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.