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PHOTOBLOG: Menstruating women banished once a month

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 7 Mar 2014 15:15 PM
Author: REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
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Once a month, Dhuna Devi Saud sleeps in a tiny shack with no windows and very little to protect her from animals roaming the hills outside.

She is not the only one from her village in Nepal who finds herself in these uncomfortable conditions. Dhuna lives in an area of the country where many woman practice ‘chaupadi', a tradition that cuts them off from the rest of society when they are menstruating.

The custom not only obligates women like her to sleep in often rickety and unhygienic huts when they are menstruating. They are also not allowed to enter houses or temples, use normal public water sources, take part in festivals or touch others when they are on their period.

Despite cultural pressure, some women in the village ignore the custom. School teacher Rupa Chand Shah used to practice chaupadi but decided to stop. She now comes to work during her period, and encourages girls in her class to do the same.

Alone in sheds that are frequently rickety and unhygienic, there have been cases of women dying while practicing chaupadi from illness, exposure, animal attacks or from fires lit in poorly ventilated spaces.

Some in the region have worked hard to raise awareness of the dangers of chaupadi, and the governmental women and children’s office runs classes to educate women on the subject.

Chaupadi was banned by Nepal's Supreme Court in 2005, but it is still common in the country's far and mid-western regions.

  • Dhuna Devi Saud prepares to sleep inside a Chaupadi shed in the hills of Legudsen village in Achham District in western Nepal, February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

    Dhuna Devi Saud prepares to sleep inside a Chaupadi shed in the hills of Legudsen village in Achham District in western Nepal, February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

  • Legudsen Village, where many woman practice Chaupadi, is seen in the way to Achham in western Nepal February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

    Legudsen Village, where many woman practice Chaupadi, is seen in the way to Achham in western Nepal February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

  • Sanu Bhul, 15, (C) and Nirmla Kadayat, 16, dance to a song about Chaupadi during an awareness class at Bailpata village in Achham District in western Nepal February 17, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

    Sanu Bhul, 15, (C) and Nirmla Kadayat, 16, dance to a song about Chaupadi during an awareness class at Bailpata village in Achham District in western Nepal February 17, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

  • Uttara Saud, 14, sits inside a Chaupadi shed in the hills of Legudsen village in Achham District in western Nepal February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

    Uttara Saud, 14, sits inside a Chaupadi shed in the hills of Legudsen village in Achham District in western Nepal February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

  • A family member offers food to women practising Chaupadi, without touching the dish or the women, in the hills of Legudsen village in Achham District in western Nepal February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

    A family member offers food to women practising Chaupadi, without touching the dish or the women, in the hills of Legudsen village in Achham District in western Nepal February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

  • Uttara Saud, 14, waits outside her house to receive her dinner while practicing Chaupadi, in the hills of Legudsen village in Achham District in western Nepal February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

    Uttara Saud, 14, waits outside her house to receive her dinner while practicing Chaupadi, in the hills of Legudsen village in Achham District in western Nepal February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

  • Rupa Chand Shah, 32, a school teacher who does not support the practice of Chaupadi, teaches an awareness class at Shree Devi Mando School in the hills of Legudsen village in Achham District in western Nepal February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

    Rupa Chand Shah, 32, a school teacher who does not support the practice of Chaupadi, teaches an awareness class at Shree Devi Mando School in the hills of Legudsen village in Achham District in western Nepal February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

  • Bhogu Devi Saud, who practiced Chaupadi when she was younger, walks in Achham District in western Nepal February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

    Bhogu Devi Saud, who practiced Chaupadi when she was younger, walks in Achham District in western Nepal February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

  • Surja Devi Saud, 20, who practices Chaupadi, sits outside her house in Achham District in western Nepal February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

    Surja Devi Saud, 20, who practices Chaupadi, sits outside her house in Achham District in western Nepal February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

  • Yagraj Bhul holds a portrait of his daughter Sarmila who died a year ago while she was practicing Chaupadi in Ridikot Village in Achham District in western Nepal, February 17, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

    Yagraj Bhul holds a portrait of his daughter Sarmila who died a year ago while she was practicing Chaupadi in Ridikot Village in Achham District in western Nepal, February 17, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

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