“What is life like when having your monthly period puts your life at RISK? When period means you have to stay in COWSHED and you are shunned by society.”
I am Angisha Basnet, currently pursuing my Bachelor degree in Biotechnology (8th semester). I am from Nepal, a country which is famous in its natural beauty. I can’t ignore this fact but there are some traditions and myths deeply entrenched in our society from generations that I strongly oppose and are worse than hell. One of them is Chaupadi pratha (menstrual taboo where girls during their period are shunned to cowshed or small wet hut called chaughar littered with hay, muck, dung) commonly seen in Western Nepal. To address this injustice, menstrual hygiene management campaign named ‘Blood Speaks’ in support of peace first was carried out in Jumla, Western Nepal to 111 participant which includes both school going girls of age group 13 to 18 and women group.
Menstruation is a natural process faced by every girl during their teenage. Despite being a normal biological process menstruation remain to be taboo subject in Western Nepal. According to a report by Nepal’s Women Development Program in 2017, at least eight girls have died in western Nepal while practicing Chaupadi pratha and many cases are still out of light. Lack of proper knowledge about menstruation and superstitious belief of rural people are the main reason behind it which contributes to poor menstrual hygiene management. Hence, safe and effective menstrual health management is a critical component of, and premise to, adolescent girls and women.
During the event I got a chance to explore the tradition & myths of Menstruation that still exist in Western Nepal. A 15-year-old girl (who was sent each month to live in menstrual hut) during interview told, "I feel petrified to enter the hut but I feel like I have to stay there. I might anger the God if I do not obey this rule. It’s cold during the winters but what can I possibly do? I am born as a girl and I have to face this.” At the same time, one of the girls at front row spoke up about the pain she suffered from and how miserable she feels staying in cowsheds for 12 long days during her 1st menstruation. She added that not knowing what exactly menstruation is and why it happens, I had to suffered from it. “If I had better knowledge of it before I got my first period, I might have been able to change the perception of my family”. Tradition beliefs and practice which view menstruation as dirty thing often impose unnecessary restriction to women and girls such as not going to school, not preparing foods, not touching male and so on. Such restriction has huge impact on psychology of girls and their self-esteem.
To sum up, the ill-tradition of Chaupadi pratha that turns women into outcast should be withdrawn from it root. JUST BECAUSE SHE BLEEDS, she isn't a criminal to be put in monthly exile (Chaughar). JUST BECAUSE SHE BLEEDS, she shouldn't be forced to follow all those ill taboos. Don't judge her by her body process rather Respect her "she is the future of your generation".
Thank you so much for your hard work and compassion!