Tragic Death of Nepali Teen Prompts Urgent Call for Change in 'Period Hut' Practice.

A teen girl from Nepal has died as a result of the illegal practice of chhaupadi, where menstruating women are forced to stay in huts outside their homes. For other stories on women making an impact, subscribe to our newsletter.

By Rachel “Sink” Lindsay
Tragic Death of Nepali Teen Prompts Urgent Call for Change in 'Period Hut' Practice

What Happened.

A 16-year-old girl from Nepal died as a result of the illegal practice of chhaupadi, where menstruating women are forced to stay in huts outside their homes. Anita Chand, from Baitadi district, died from a snake bite while she was sleeping.

Source: The Guardian

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Tragic Death of Nepali Teen Prompts Urgent Call for Change in 'Period Hut' Practice
Source 2: Narendra Shrestha/EPA
Tragic Death of Nepali Teen Prompts Urgent Call for Change in 'Period Hut' Practice
Source 3: Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images

Background.

Chhaupadi is based on the centuries-old belief that women and girls are unclean and untouchable during menstruation. They are not allowed to do a range of activities and in some cases are banished to “period huts” for the duration of their cycle. The practice, which is linked to Hinduism, is deeply embedded in western Nepal.

Source: The Guardian

Investigation.

Outlawed in 2005, chhaupadi is punishable by up to three months in prison and a 3,000 Nepali rupee fine. Baitadi district police have said they are investigating Chand’s death. Her family have denied she was on her period when she died.

Source: The Guardian

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Tragic Death of Nepali Teen Prompts Urgent Call for Change in 'Period Hut' Practice
Source 4: WaterAid/Poulomi Basu
Tragic Death of Nepali Teen Prompts Urgent Call for Change in 'Period Hut' Practice
Source 5: Poulomi Basu/VII

Ongoing Issue.

The last reported death from chhaupadi was in 2019. Parwati Budha Rawat, 21, died after spending three nights in an outdoor hut. Her death was the fifth reported case that year. Women and girls have died from animal attacks and smoke inhalation after lighting fires in windowless huts.

Source: The Guardian

Calling for Change.

Rawat’s death prompted campaigns to end the practice of chhaupadi. Thousands of period huts were destroyed in 2019, but they are being rebuilt in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, Radha Paudel, founder of Global South Coalition for Dignified Menstruation, has urged Nepal’s government to do more to intervene.

Source: The Guardian

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Tragic Death of Nepali Teen Prompts Urgent Call for Change in 'Period Hut' Practice
Source 6: Poulomi Basu
Tragic Death of Nepali Teen Prompts Urgent Call for Change in 'Period Hut' Practice
Source 7: YouTube

“We must demolish the metal huts and launch massive campaigns to make communities and families aware that women don’t become impure simply by menstruating.”

Renu Adhikari Rajbhandari, Nepal’s National Alliance for Women Human Rights Defenders

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