Nepal bans isolating women in ‘menstrual huts’

Menstrual huts in Nepal may finally become relics of the past, following the recent deaths of at least two women who died while sleeping in sheds located outside their homes.


Nepalese lawmakers have adopted a bill criminalizing a practice that banishes women from their houses while they experience their monthly periods, the BBC reported Thursday.

The practice is known as chhaupadi, an ancient Hindu practice that also applies to women who have just given birth.
Women who menstruate are believed to be unclean and bringers of bad luck, according to tradition, and are also banned from coming into contact with men and cattle, according to the report.

Menstruation also means the women can be disallowed from consuming certain kinds of foods and prohibited from using the toilet in their residences.

But the practice of forcing young women to sleep in poorly heated sheds also poses serious health risks.

In July, a snake bit a teenager while she slept in her assigned hut, and in December 2016 a 15-year-old girl suffocated after lighting a fire trying to keep warm.

Al Jazeera reported the new law would come into effect in a year.

A three-month jail sentence, or a $30 fine, is the penalty that must be paid if families force women to spend a night in a menstrual hut or shed.

Mohna Ansari, a member of Nepal’s human rights commission, said the new law is a “big achievement.”

By Elizabeth Shim