Nepal | August 07, 2020

Menstruation huts become death traps

17 die in sheds in ten years

Prakash Singh
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Bajura, December 3

The prevailing law of the land has made menstruation huts illegal. Chhaupadi huts, in which menstruating women and girls are forced to sleep, however, are becoming death traps in Achham and Bajura districts.

As many as 14 women of Achham and three of Bajura have died in chhau huts in the last ten years. Women and girls are losing their lives due to a custom that bans them from living in their homes during menstruation period. In most of the cases, women and girls die due to suffocation, snake bite and fire in the hut.

Parbati Budha Rawat, 21, of Siddeswor at Safebagar Municipality, Achham, died in the chaupadi hut yesterday. Parbati Budha of Turmakhad Rural Municipality, Gauri Budha, Roshani Tiruwa, Dammara Upadhyay, Sharmila Bhul and Laxmi Budha died in the chhau sheds in Achham.

Likewise, Jhumadevi Shahi, Dikradevi Dhakal, Ratan Devi BK, Jhupri Dholi, Parbati Damai, Hansha Jaishi and Hansha Devi Joshi died in the chhaupadi huts in Achham.

In Bajura, Amba Bohora, 35 and her sons Suresh, 9 and Ramit Bohora died in the chhau shed due to suffocation last year.

Efforts have been made to reduce the practice of chhaupadi, but they have not produced any tangible outcome. Many governmental and non-governmental organisations have launched various programmes to check chhau practice.

Dalit rights activist Gorakh Sarki said that activities and programmes aimed at reducing chhau had yet to come under the scanner.

When a girl/woman dies in a chhau, stakeholders organise a discussion at a hotel. They prepare the report by running trainings and workshops in the hotel.

Women rights activist Rukhmadi Shah commented that the number of women killed in the chhau shed might be higher than what is reported in the media. It is punishable to keep menstruating women and girls in the chhau shed. Those responsible for forcing women and girls to stay in the chhau will face three months’ jail term and fine.

The Supreme Court had declared Chhaupadi illegal back in 2006.

A version of this article appears in print on December 04, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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