There is a century old tradition among the Hindu religion in Nepal and parts of India and Bangladesh that is called Chhaupadi. It is thought that when women get their menstruation they are seen as “dirty” and “impure.” Mary Cameron, a professor of anthropology at Florida Atlantic University says, ” the practice is tied to deities—the belief that any kind of impurity will make deities angry and may cause misfortune to a community.” Each month, these women are banned from their homes or are locked in a dark isolated room for the length of their period. The women who are banned from their home sleep in what’s known as “menstruation huts” which are very small cattle houses in which are very unsanitary and potentially deadly. Moreover, women during their periods aren’t allowed to touch or interact with male family members, not allowed to touch food, religious icons and cattle, go into the kitchen or use any communal water sources. It is said she will curse the family and bring them misfortune (Cousins, 2019).
Furthermore, in these geographical locations, they experience very harsh Himalayan winters and women are left freezing all night with not a lot to protect them. The huts are made of mud, the windows dont have glass, door doesn’t close and no running water inside. There have been many cases of women dying in these huts from exposure to the cold (hypothermia), snake bites and smoke inhalation from their attempts to stay warm (Cousins, 2019).
In 2005, Nepal’s supreme court banned this taboo practise but it still has seized to exist and discriminate, oppress and pose harm on women everyday. Finally in 2017, Nepal’s government decided to take more action to protect the girls and women affected by Chhaupadi. A sentence if caught making a woman take part in Chhaupadi is three months in jail or a 30 $ fine. Also, many of these huts have been destroyed all over these countries (Regan, 2019). Personally, destroying the houses does little for these women, it is the mindset and inhumaine beliefs that have to be changed to allow these women to have the respect, care and freedom they deserve to experience like any other human living on planet earth. I believe that education is where the answers lie; a basic knowledge of female anatomy and a basic lesson in human rights need to be incorporated in the school systems in those countries. I sincerely hope that these unfortunate women find a form of comfort and support in their lives to help them get through their menstruations and the treatment they deserve from all.
For more information and perspective, check this video out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7R_9j092jnE