Girls On Periods In Nepal Forbidden From Entering Their Homes, Banished To Outdoor Sheds

Girls on periods in Nepal forbidden from entering their homes, banished to outdoor sheds

Girls on their period in Nepal are forbidden from entering their homes while menstruating and are banished to outdoor sheds, a disturbing tradition dating back centuries.

In the West, most girls on their periods don’t think twice about that time of the month, which at most bothers them with painful cramps. However, this is not the case in third world countries such as Nepal, where girls on their periods are forbidden from entering their own home and having contact with others.

The practice of banishing girls on periods from entering any building is known as Chhaupadi — a social tradition in the Western part of Nepal — which not only keeps women outside of the house, but forbids them from participating in any social activity with others. Girls who are menstruating are considered “impure” and are forced to live in a shed for 10 to 11 days, when they get their first period.

In an expose from NPR, 14-year-old Kamala B.K. is presented as the prime example of this disturbing practice in Nepal. As she is invited to come and talk to the journalist, she refuses to approach the porch of the house.

Wateraid worker Cecile Shrestha explains Kamala is on her period and is following the tradition which keeps her outside for the duration of her cycle.

“Because she’s menstruating, she should not be entering another person’s house. It’s disrespectful.

When they are menstruating, no matter what, they stay outside, they eat outside, and they sleep outside.”

The nonprofit organization Wateraid is working with women and girls in Nepal to end what Western women see as a shocking practice because of a normal developmental occurrence. During their period, girls in Kamala’s village sleep in a shed in the woods, which is nothing more than a raised platform, with no walls, and in some cases, no roof. They use blankets to protect themselves from the elements.

According to Wateraid, Shrestha — who is an Associate Director of Program Development — traveled to Nepal in July with NPR journalists to interview girls and women about the impact of menstruation on their daily lives. These are some of her experiences with girls on periods in Nepal.

Aside from the stigma that exists in Nepal, girls on periods miss school and other family events because of the isolation they endure during those days each month. Even more disturbing is that some who are afraid of what is to come if their condition is revealed, don’t even ask for sanitary napkins. Tampons are not even used in this part of the world.

Wateraid Nepal is trying to educate girls about the importance of hygiene during their menstrual cycles, as 26-percent of the total population is of reproductive age. Most women and girls will be on their period from two to seven days, the nonprofit states.

The goal is to change centuries of tradition and allow women to manage their menstruation hygienically and with dignity. For this to happen, it is imperative that these women have access to water and sanitation, and the privacy to change their sanitary cloths, as well as safely dispose of them or wash them as may be the case. In Nepal there are no disposable items for menstrual cycles available to women.

What do you think of the practice girls on periods have to endure in Nepal?

[Photo by Paula Bronstein / Getty Images]