After the custom of consigning menstruating women to outdoor sheds claimed three more lives, a new system of penalties offers hope of change.
Written by Rojita Adhikari The Guardian
Chhaupadi, the practice of banishing girls and women to a hut or shed when they have their periods, is common in Dilu Bhandari’s village in Nepal.
But two months ago Bhandari, a 26-year-old mother of four, watched as her husband destroyed the tiny hut in which she had previously been sent to live once a month. The family had been told by local authorities that if she continued to observe the custom, they would no longer receive state food support. Forced to choose between a food allowance for her twin boys and abandoning the traditional practice, the choice was effectively made for them.
The withdrawal of state support services is one of the penalties being brought into force as the country tries to tackle chhaupadi, which was banned by the supreme court in 2005 and criminalised by the government last year. Forcing a menstruating woman into a “period hut” is now punishable with three months in prison and a 3,000 rupee (£33) fine.
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