Banning Chhaupadi

By asking the government to promulgate necessary laws and orders to ban the Chhaupadi custom, the Supreme Court has made it clear that it is time the Nepali society shunned all kinds of existing social evils thriving in the name of culture. The Chhaupadi custom is a cruel vestige of the past according to which girls who menstruate for the first time are debarred from the domestic and public activities and are instead exiled to a cowshed for 11 days. The complainants were perfectly justified in filing the Public Interest Litigation for the abolition of this degrading custom. A common practice in several parts of the country, the Chhaupadi custom has been unnecessarily protected in rural areas where literacy drives and other forces of social change have by and large failed to arrive. There cannot be a dispute over the ban on a rustic and irrational practice like Chhaupadi. It is used only as an instrument to perpetrate injustice to those banished to a cowshed when what they actually need is advice and medical precaution.

In fact, it should not have taken so many years to smash such a barbaric practice. There is no justification whatsoever in endangering the lives of girls by pushing them to cowsheds for no fault of theirs. Many of them develop problems during menstruation even under supervision. It is one such biological phase that often leads to physiological and psychological complications, not to mention the risk of being infected with diseases. It is urgent as well as important, therefore, for the government to ensure that adequate steps are taken to have the Supreme Court ban on the aforesaid social evil implemented without much ado. It is also time for the society to differentiate between good and irresponsible practices. The primary reason behind Chhaupadi and similar other senseless practices is lack of education. To ban them through legislative means is only one part of a bigger fight that must include vigorous literacy drives and awareness campaigns. The least the government can do is to leap into action so that the women are spared the pain in the name of negative cultural ethos. Moreover, times have changed and the attitudes of those imposing the old and obsolete social trends need to change. To stick to the unproductive practices is to get caught up in a time warp. Such an attitude must be discouraged on humanitarian grounds.