It is more than heart-wrenching that Nepali women continue to suffer gender related discrimination. The traumatic situations they undergo in the name of religion are simply unspeakable.
Recently, media reports showed how young women have been dying because of the torturous practice of Chhaupadi. This is prevalent particularly in western Nepal whereby the women during their menstrual days are made to live in cowsheds. There is a stereotypical belief that the menstruating females are not only impure but also their impurities are contagious. That is why they have been treated as pariahs to completely avoid during the menstrual cycle.
According to the recent media reports, Dambara Upadhayaya of Achhham district was found dead after being forced to spend night in a cowshed by her family. Last year too, Bhawana Malla of the same district lost her life in the same way as Dambara. Most deaths in Chhaupadi huts in especially the winter season are ascribed to the suffocation resulting from the smoke of the fire used to protect the menstruating women from cold.
Evidences suggest that other deaths in cowsheds arise from poor hygiene and snakebites. The list of lethal threats is not still over. There also cases of the women practicing Chhaupadi being raped or sexually abused as they are kept alone away from the main house.
It is not true that the State has done nothing to eliminate this tormenting system. In fact, it was banned by none other than the Supreme Court (SC) way back in 2005. At the same time, some 30 of the 75 VDCs in Accham district have been declared Chhaupadi-free zones with the help of local people there. But the reality is quite different.
Especially the old generation is so much glued to their mistaken beliefs that this system is taking its toll. So, what would be the most viable remedy to this ill? Perhaps, a well-orchestrated campaign to spread more awareness on the inhuman aspects is the need. What should be well understood is that legal provisions alone are not enough to fight as deep-rooted social anomaly as Chhupadi. The continuation of this practice even after being legally banned for long attests to this fact. That is why, the concerned stakeholders should come together to make a concrete, result-oriented approach to this problem. Any delay in this regard is most likely to cost more lives of innocent young women.