Menstrual Huts Are Illegal, So Why Are Women Still Dying In Them?

We have seen a recent arrest in Nepal that has been connected to the awful practice of sending women into a hut behind their home during their menstruation…

December 6 saw the police in a district Achham, apprehend ‘Chhatra Raut’ for further questioning after his sister-in-law Parbati Buda Rawat,

On Dec. 6, police in the western district of Achham took Chhatra Raut into custody for further questioning, his sister-in-law, Parbati Buda Rawat, 21 years old, was discovered dead in one of these menstruation huts, due to smoke inhalation.

Her blanket had caught on fire while she was sleeping, and the police are trying to ascertain if she was forced into the hut…

Many women are killed each year in Nepal because they are exiled from their holes into these very basic huts while they menstruate, as they are said to be unclean.

Precise numbers are hard to obtain, and many fatalities and injuries go completely unreported. While the women sleep in the huts, women are at great risk of snake bites, physical assault, deeply cold temperatures, and suffocation because of lack of ventilation.

By forcing women to use these huts people are now considered to be carrying out criminal acts, according to laws brought into place last year.

Chhatra’s arrest sent a message that the winds are turning against chhaupadi, which has been hugely condemned by all human rights activists.

But it’s not clear that the law will be an effective deterrent though, for one, even if Chhatra is charged and convicted, the penalty is not large at all, a three-month jail sentence and a fine of 3,000 rupees, about $30.

There are other problems too with this law, according to another study published recently, in the journal of Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters.

This study saw that around 77% of west-central Nepali girls and young women actively practice menstrual exile, this is from a survey of 400 girls aged 14 to 19-year-old. About 60% of them were aware that chhaupadi is illegal too, however, that knowledge made them no less likely to continue the practice.

The study author, Jennifer Thomson, said:

“On the optimistic side of things, that result suggests that girls are aware of their rights… But they don’t feel able, or they are unable to exercise those rights.”

Thomson also said:

“We found that arresting somebody is a quick and easy measure, but changing attitudes, changing mindsets, changing practices, is going to take years”

We hope that at the very least we can spread awareness and help to move the attitudes forward, don’t you agree?