Nepalese woman dies following banishment to 'menstruation hut'

Banishing women to a separate hut is a centuries-old Hindu tradition that was officially banned in Nepal in 2005.

    A 21-year-old woman from Nepal has died after she was forced to stay in a so-called “menstruation hut” during her period.

    Parbati Bogati died after making a fire to keep herself warm, police said on Monday.

    “It appears she died of suffocation after the fire. We will know more after the autopsy report is made public,” head of police in Doti district Lala Bahadur Dhami said.

    Dhami added the woman planned to spend the night on the ground floor of an abandoned house near her home after she found the communal menstruation hut to be too crowded.

    Banishing women to a separate hut is a centuries-old Hindu tradition called chhaupadi that was officially banned in Nepal in 2005. 

    According to the ritual, women are undesirable and untouchable during their menstruation and shortly after childbirth.

    Last year, Kathmandu introduced a three-month jail sentence and a 3,000 rupee ($30) fine for anyone caught imposing chhaupadi.

    Even though it is illegal, it is still practised in the country’s western region.

    Monday’s death came three weeks after a mother and her two sons in neighbouring Bajura district died of suspected smoke inhalation while observing the tradition.

    Their deaths prompted locals to demolish chhaupadi sheds in their village and local authorities warned that services would be denied to anyone forcing their daughters and daughters-in-law to follow the banned practice.

    Ganga Chaudhary, a legislator who was involved in the drafting of the legal ban, said much more needs to be done to enforce the law and change social norms.

    “We have realised that only legal provisions are not enough to end such practices. We need to focus on awareness and educating women,” Chaudhary said.

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