Thursday, September 28, 2023

Chhaupadi – A Harmful Social Tradition in Nepal

Chhaupadi is a harmful social tradition in the western part of Nepal that affects Hindu women during menstruation and childbirth.

This tradition prohibits them from participating in normal family activities and forces them to live in a cattle shed or a makeshift hut, as they are considered “impure” during this time.

The women endure a period of isolation that lasts between ten and eleven days when an adolescent girl has her first period, and between four and seven days each month thereafter. Childbirth also results in a ten to eleven-day confinement.

Chhaupadi pratha

During this time, women face severe restrictions, including not touching men or entering their own homes’ courtyards. They are also barred from consuming nutritious foods, using warm blankets, and are forced to survive on a limited diet of dry foods, salt, and rice.

Chhaupadi was outlawed by the Supreme Court of Nepal in 2005, but the tradition has been slow to change. Its origins are rooted in religious beliefs where menstruating women were considered a source of impurity, leading to punishment through isolation.

The conditions in which women are kept are horrific, subjecting them to cold extremities, infectious diseases, and malnutrition. Some women even die as a result of this practice, making it a serious health risk.Chhaupadi pratha sprasa media

The psychological effects are equally shocking, with young women living in fear and discomfort, exposed to the dangers of assault and sexual abuse. The misogynistic nature of certain regions in Nepal perpetuates the repression and subjugation of young women by the elders of the village.

While some progress has been seen in rejecting Chhaupadi, challenging age-old practices is still considered taboo, making it challenging to bring about significant change.

It is crucial to raise awareness and work towards eradicating this harmful tradition to ensure the well-being and dignity of women in these areas.

Chhaupadi is a form of menstrual taboo which prohibits women and girls from participating in normal family activities while menstruating, as they are considered “impure”. Chhaupadi is said to be practiced primarily in the western part of Nepal, but the same is true for city dwellers also

Chhaupadi Harmful Traditional 

Chhaupadi is deeply rooted in Nepal’s social and cultural fabric, particularly in rural areas where traditional beliefs and practices hold strong. Here are some additional details about this harmful tradition:

1. Menstrual Huts: During their menstruation period, women are banished to small, secluded huts or sheds located outside their homes. These huts are often poorly constructed and lack proper sanitation, making them uncomfortable and unsafe places for women to stay.

2. Health Risks: The conditions in these huts pose significant health risks to women. They are exposed to extreme cold temperatures, which can lead to respiratory illnesses and other health complications. Inadequate protection also makes them vulnerable to snake bites and other dangers.

3. Limited Access to Basic Necessities: Women in Chhaupadi are deprived of access to basic necessities such as proper food, clean water, and proper sanitation facilities. This lack of care and nutrition during menstruation and postpartum can result in health problems and increased vulnerability to diseases.

4. Social Isolation: Chhaupadi enforces social isolation upon women, making them feel excluded and stigmatized during a natural biological process. The isolation and taboos around menstruation contribute to the perpetuation of gender inequality and discrimination.

5. Impact on Education: Chhaupadi disrupts the education of young girls as they are prohibited from attending school during their menstruation period. This hampers their academic progress and perpetuates gender disparities in education.

6. Legal Status: Although Chhaupadi was officially outlawed by the Supreme Court of Nepal in 2005, enforcement of the law has been challenging in remote areas. The deeply ingrained beliefs and resistance from conservative communities have hindered progress in eradicating the practice completely.

7. Awareness and Activism: Various NGOs and activists are working towards raising awareness about the negative consequences of Chhaupadi and advocating for its elimination. Community-based initiatives, education campaigns, and legislative efforts aim to create a societal shift in attitudes towards menstruation and women’s rights.

8. Changing Attitudes: While the practice is deeply entrenched in older generations, there is a gradual shift in attitudes among younger generations who question and reject the practice. This change is essential for sustainable progress in eliminating Chhaupadi.

9. Government Initiatives: The Nepalese government has taken steps to address the issue by implementing awareness programs and providing incentives to communities that abandon the practice. However, more efforts are needed to enforce the law effectively and protect women’s rights.

Chhaupadi remains a significant challenge in Nepal, requiring continued efforts from various stakeholders to break free from the grip of this harmful tradition and ensure the safety and dignity of women.



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