Main content

Nepal: Banished for Bleeding

The practice of chhaupadi, in which menstruating women are isolated from community life.

Getting your period in Nepal is a big deal. Menstruating women face many restrictions – they’re not allowed to worship or enter the kitchen. Our young Nepali reporters Divya Shrestha and Nirmala Limbu still remember the shock at suddenly being excluded from festivities for being “impure”.

In this programme airing as part of the BBC’s Life Stories season, they travel from Kathmandu to the far west of Nepal, where periods are still subject to deep taboos. Here, menstruating women are banished from home for four days and have to sleep in an open hut. This is not just unhygienic but it can be unsafe. Last year, a teenage girl died, suffocated by the fire she lit to stay warm.

This illegal practice is known as chhaupadi and is based on the belief that menstruation is a curse. If women aren’t banished from the home, it is said, terrible things will happen: snakes or tigers might attack and cattle will die. Such beliefs are hard to eradicate, but Divya and Nirmala find that some young women are rebelling. They now know that menstruation is a natural process. The difficult thing is persuading their elders.

Photo: Dhamilekh Ishwari Credit: BBC

Available now

49 minutes

Last on

Wed 3 May 2017 23:06GMT


Featured in...

Amazing documentaries from 2017

Catch up on some of the most powerful global stories from the last year

In Detail: Moving Pictures

Take time to discover the detail in old masterpieces using your phone, tablet or computer


Stargazing - from eclipses to the spacecraft changing our view of the Universe

The Documentary Podcast

Every episode of The Documentary, on your mp3 player, to play wherever you are

The Compass

The essential take on big ideas, issues and trends from the 21st century