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