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Why is Chhaupadi Still a Reality in Nepal?

April 21, 2024
Chhaupadi Pratha

Despite being outlawed, chhaupadi remains a dangerous reality for menstruating women and girls in Nepal. Learn why this harmful tradition continues and what steps must be taken to eradicate it.

The recurring tragedies of death in Chhaugoth – makeshift huts used to isolate menstruating women and girls – have brought a harsh spotlight on the persistence of the harmful practice of chhaupadi Pratha. Despite legislation outlawing it, chhaupadi remains a dangerous reality for many in Nepal.

Experts emphasize that while the physical destruction of Chhaugoth structures is an important step, the deeper work lies in transforming the social attitudes that perpetuate the practice. Deeply rooted in tradition and superstition, chhaupadi stems from the belief that menstruating women are impure and can bring misfortune to their families and communities.

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Strict enforcement of existing laws banning chhaupadi is crucial. The government must show unwavering commitment to implementing these laws to prevent further tragedies. Without consequences for those who uphold this harmful practice, change will be difficult to achieve.

Comprehensive education is essential, both within formal schooling and at the community level. By teaching the science behind menstruation, Nepal can begin dismantling harmful taboos and misconceptions.

Solutions for Ending Chhaupadi

  • Strict Enforcement of Laws: Consistent and firm implementation of existing laws against chhaupadi to demonstrate its unacceptability and create deterrents.
  • Transforming Social Consciousness: Challenging the beliefs that view menstruation as impure through awareness campaigns, education, and dialogue within communities.
  • Comprehensive Education: Teaching the biological basis of menstruation in schools and within communities to dispel myths and taboos.
  • Safe Alternatives: Providing safe and hygienic spaces within homes for women and girls during menstruation, along with access to sanitary products and support.

Ending chhaupadi requires a multi-pronged approach. Nepal cannot solely rely on legislation; the focus must also be on shifting outdated beliefs and providing adequate support mechanisms for women and girls. The deaths in Chhaugoth serve as a painful reminder of the urgency of this social transformation.

Background on Chhaupadi Pratha

  • Chhaupadi Pratha is a tradition in parts of Nepal where women and girls are considered impure during menstruation.
  • They are banished to poorly built sheds (Chhaugoth), often exposed to harsh conditions, lack of sanitation, and dangers from animals or human predators.
  • Chhaupadi was outlawed in Nepal in 2005, yet its practice remains widespread, especially in rural regions.

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