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Outcry after 'menstruation hut' deaths

There has been international outcry after a number of deaths of women who were banished to “menstruation huts” in Nepal. 

This month, 21-year-old woman, from Nepal died after being banished to a “menstruation hut” during her period. The head of police in Doti district, Lala Bahadur Dhami, told reporters that she died of suffocation after making a fire to keep herself warm.

Parbati Bogati, had initially planned to spend the night on the ground floor of an abandoned house but had found that communal menstruation hut too crowded. This follows a similar incident three weeks ago in which a mother who was following the tradition and her two sons died of smoke inhalation in Bajura.

The practice of banishing women to a separate hut or accommodation is a centuries old Nepalese tradition known as chhaupadi. Nepal banned it in 2005 but it is still widely practiced in the western region of Nepal. Last year, Kathmandu made the crime punishable with a three-month jail sentence and a 3,000 rupee fine was introduced. Under the logic of chhaupadi women on their period and shortly after childbirth are considered to pollute the home and must be quarantined.  Authorities have responded to these incidents by tearing down chhaupadi sheds and warning that services will be denied to those who force their daughters and daughters in law to continue the practice.

The huts women are forced into are dangerously cold, and women are often subjected to criminal attacks. There have been several cases of suffocation and at least one teenage girl has died after being bitten by a snake.

Speaking on this issue Ganga Chaudhary, a lawyer involved in creating the prohibition said, "we have realised that only legal provisions are not enough to end such practices. We need to focus on awareness and educating women”.

Read more here and here.