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Nepal: Banished Because Of Her Periods, A Mother Dies With Her Two Kids

According to an old Hindu custom, women must go into exile while they are menstruating.

Nepal, 2013. (© Christian Ender/Getty)

In Nepal, an old tradition forces women to go into exile in secluded huts during their periods. Wednesday, January 9, a woman and her two children were found dead in one of these huts, while she was obeying this custom in the countryside of the west part of the country.

Amba Bohora was 35 years old while her two sons were 7 and 9. As the temperatures generally go under zero at this time of the year in Nepal, the mother constructed a small fire inside the hut. According to the police chief officer interviewed by CNN, their death was caused by suffocation:

"She had lit a fire inside the shed to keep warm and it appears the blanket had caught fire while they were asleep filling the room with smoke", he said.

Most menstruation huts don’t have ventilation, which makes fires particularly risky.

Menstrual Blood Considered As Impure And Unclean

According to this Hindu belief, the "Chapaudi", the menstrual blood, is impure. Women must remove themselves from society during their periods and sleep in these huts, even during winter.

They can't have physical contact with anyone, nor with the food or any everyday life item, to avoid contamination.

It is not the first time that a woman dies during Chapaudi. Last year, two women aged 19 and 14 died in their hut after being bitten by a snake.

Since 2017, menstrual exile is forbidden in Nepal, and anyone found forcing a woman into a menstrual hut is punishable with three months imprisonment or a 30 dollars fine. However, it is difficult to put an end to this centuries-old ritual.

Exclusion, stigmatization, period poverty… Nepal is not the only country where women face dangers or difficulties because of their menstruation.  

By Clothilde Bru, published on 14/01/2019