Nepal parliament criminalises isolation of women during menstruation

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 10, 2017

Nepal's government has criminalized an ancient Hindu practice that ostracizes women from their houses during menstruation.

As per the new law, which will come into effect soon, anyone forcing a woman to follow the custom will be liable to a three-month jail sentence or Rs 3,000 fine or both.

According to Al Jazeera, the new law stated " A woman during her menstruation or post-natal state should not be kept in chhaupadi or treated with any kind of similar discrimination or untouchable and inhuman behaviour".

There are many communities in Nepal which still follow the custom known as chhaupadi, as per which women are considered untouchable when they menstruate. Under the tradition, many communities of the country view menstruating women as impure and in some remote areas, they are forced to sleep in a hut away from home during their periods.

They are also barred from touching food, religious icons, cattle and men.

Women's rights groups say more than 10 women have already died during the practice in the last 10 years in Nepal.

In one of the cases, a woman died of smoke inhalation after she lit a fire for warmth.

Despite a ban from Nepal's Supreme Court in 2005, the tradition persisted among patriarchal Hindu families that deemed menstruating women as unclean.

Lawmaker Krishna Bhakta Pokhrel, who was part of the committee that pushed through the bill, said he hoped the new law would finally see an end to the custom.

"Supreme court ruled against chhaupadi 12 years ago, but it was not effective because it issued just guidelines".

In an interview to the media company, Mohna Ansari, a member of national human rights commission who was part of the push for the new law, said that this was indeed a big achievement.

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