By: Colleen Claire
Menstrual taboo is becoming increasingly popular not just in the United States, but around the world. In the last few months, there have been numerous reports on the ‘menstrual huts” in Nepal. When menstruating, women are banished to small, confined huts throughout their cycle by their family.
This practice is called Chaupadi, a tradition that views women menstruating as “impure”. Women are not involved in household activities, nor can they have any contact with men. In some parts of Nepal women are not allowed to touch books or learn in fear they will anger Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of Knowledge. Women who do not follow these rules are blamed for unanticipated circumstances, such as poor cultivation, illness, or the death of an animal. While this practice is banned, some parts for Nepal still follow the tradition.
Early this summer, a girl was sent to a shed during her period. During her exile, the young woman was bitten by a snake twice. She later died due to delayed medical attention as her family took her to a shaman instead of a doctor. Another case of this arose in late 2016 when a woman was sent to a hut. She died trying to light a fire for warmth.
The idea of women being expelled into a confined space because they are bleeding from their uterus in immoral and continues to grow the stigma behind periods. Nepali girls are being taught that periods are shameful, almost as if it is a sin. They are not able to celebrate becoming a woman when the time comes. They will grow up in a society where they feel belittled because of their anatomy and continue to give their future daughters this way of thinking.
Ironically, Nepal has female leaders running it’s government, yet there has been no mention of this issue anywhere. Whether you are male or female, someone needs to speak up. I am saying this with a human rights approach, not a feminist perspective. Young women are dying, feeling disgraced, and even raped because of these huts. Women need to be educated on menstrual health not, humiliated.