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Call to crack down on 'menstruation huts' after latest death

Graphic: A village in Nepal's western region

The National Human Rights Commission of Nepal and human rights activists have called for an end to banishing women from their homes during their periods following the fourth death in recent weeks, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported.

Parbati Bogati, 17, suffocated after lighting a fire to keep warm in the windowless mud and stone hut where she had been made to sleep, as part of the centuries-old Hindu practise of "chhaupadi", which remains prevalent in Nepal despite an official ban.

Her death last week came after a woman and her two young sons died in similar circumstances, prompting a parliamentary investigation and leading local officials to warn families they would be denied state benefits if found practising chhaupadi.

The National Human Rights Commission said the government was still not doing enough to stop the practice.

"The punishment is not enough and the government lacks specific policies to eliminate chhaupadi," Commissioner Mohna Ansari said.

"The existing laws must be revised and a clear plan to end the practice must be formulated and implemented," she added.

Chhaupadi was outlawed in 2005, yet it remains prevalent in Nepal's remote west and leaves women at risk of snake bites, attacks by wild animals and rape.

Some communities fear misfortune, such as a natural disaster, if menstruating women and girls are not sent away.

The custom has led to several deaths, despite the government introducing three-month jail terms and fines of 3,000 rupees ($27).

Government officials say awareness programs have been launched in the poor, remote areas of western Nepal where chhaupadi is most prevalent, but changing attitudes is not easy.

Date: 5 February 2019

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation


Image credits

  1. A village in Nepal's western region - jmhullot, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2GJ7cOX