Chhaupadi

IMG_9148.JPG No, Chhaupadi is not a celebration. Chhaupadi is a tradition that is honored in Nepal for women when they are menstruating and post childbirth. Instead of staying home, they are shunned and forced to live in a hut where they are vulnerable to the elements around them.

When researching Chhaupadi I learned that the women who are left in these huts are unprotected. They are vulnerable to rape and sexual assault. In one of the interviews I watched a young girl stated that she became pregnant while partaking in Chhauapdi. She was forced to leave school with her child at the age of thirteen. She detailed being alone in the hut when the man stepped in and forced himself on her. Due to the rape she was shunned and shamed by her community for something that was not her fault.

Sexual assault may be one of the most horrible things to happen during Chhaupadi, but it is not the only problem these girls and women face. On top of losing out on an education, they have to find alternatives to get food and clean clothes. There are some cases where women do not receive the necessary living essentials for a week away from home. In fact, some women are forbidden from touching kitchen utensils on day their period starts. Not only are they finding ways to make meals, they need to find alternatives to make for cleaning themselves.

IMG_7520.JPGWomen are considered “impure” during their period in these parts of the world, hence the reason for the hut. When watching videos on YouTube and reading articles the young girls and women showed they have to do things entirely separate. They have to find a way to bathe and wash their clothes. In one of the interviews, a girl stated she didn’t understand why she needed to take drastic measures during her period. She stated she felt that as long as she is able to keep herself clean, it shouldn’t matter whether she stays at home or not.

In 2005, Chhaupadi was outlawed in Nepal. However, the “tradition” still takes place today. It has been slow to outlaw and leave behind. In parts of the interviews and articles women stated they felt that it was necessary to partake in Chhaupadi because it is how they had been raised. Even, a young women who admitted to being sexually assaulted felt that Chhaupadi is the best way. There have been men and women who have stepped up to end Chhaupadi. But, sadly Chhaupadi continues today.

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