‘Chhaupadi’ still pervasive in Kanchanpur, despite its criminalisation

Rajendra Prasad Paneru, KANCHANPUR: Chhaupadhi custom, a harmful Hindu practice that banishes women from home during menstruation, forcing them to stay in an isolated hut or cowshed, is still pervasive in Kanchanpur, despite its criminalization last year.
Women also seem not ready to violate this long ‘ill-practice’ due to various reasons. It is (wrongly) believed that if a woman in monthly period stays at home, it would bring bad luck to the family and displease the deities, and is itself a sinful act. Women here have long been enduring inhumane treatment in the name of this tradition.
A woman in the post-natal state is also forced to stay away from home as per the Chhaupadi custom. Women are banned from entering the house, doing household works and are deprived of nutrition food and milk products during the menstruation. They are forced to do heavy works outside home.
Menstruation is a natural/biological process given to the woman by nature that starts from a certain age. But, menstruating women in the Hindu society are treated as impure and pollutant and thus untouchable. This natural cycle has been misinterpreted connecting it to the religion. It has been considered itself a sinful act, discriminating the woman on the same basis.
Hindu religion prohibits woman in the monthly cycle religion from entering the religious sites and performing other rituals.
Deputy mayor of Shuklaphanta Municipality Tulsa Hamal believed that stereotypical thinking, superstition, religious biasness, lack of public awareness, gender discrimination, and lack of effective policies are behind the continuity of this harmful social practice.
Home is the first place from where it must be removed. Relatively, the range of isolation has decreased. Many families allow menstruating women to stay separately inside the house and to sleep on bed, but this was possible after tremendous efforts.
She said, “They have compulsion to take bath in river even in chilling cold as they are not allowed to touch taps.”
Similarly, Jaba Devi Kami, said that they are compelled to spend whole night in fear of attack by wild animals as they have to sleep in a hut that lies far from the house. The daughters-in-law are even facing pain of chhaupadi from their own mother-in-law, sister-in-law as compared to their father-in-law, husband and brother-in-law.
There is an old tradition that female who is having a period should not attend any religious and social activities as well as she should not go to temple and its surrounding areas. They even should not comb their hair, take bath for three days.
Chairperson of ward no 11 of Shuklaphanta municipality, Dil Bahadur Budha, said that although women leaders of social sector have demolished chhaugoth, (the huts where the women undergoing their monthly period) discrimination to daughter-in-law in the name of menstruation is still on.
Administrative Officer of Shuklaphanta municipality, Sher Bahadur Budha, said, “It will help to remove such practice if a positive thinking can be developed in the society.”
Likewise, Mayor Dil Bahadur Airee stressed the need of running educational and health related programmes to wipe out such practices. He said that pressure-exerting programmes would be launched to give justice to the women, who have been compelled to live as second-class people due to the chhaupadi practice.
Mayor Airee said that they have determined to launch a programme to demolish chhaupadi along with creating public awareness simultaneously.
Although an act regarding punishment and fine has been proposed describing discriminatory behaviuors during chhaupadi as a crime legally, it has not been issued yet. A provision of three-month imprisonment, Rs 3,000 fine or both has been made an Act made to replace the Civil Code if anyone gives recognition to chhaupadi practice.
Domestic Violence (Crime and Punishment) Act-2066 has a legal provision that no one can do physical, mental, financial and sexual violence to nobody in domestic violence, action has not been taken against anyone under this so far.
Establishing an equitable society by wiping out all chhaupadi practice has been mentioned in the objective of Chhaupadi Eradication Directives-2064.

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