One of the most positive news of the week came from our neighbor, Nepal. The nation has abolished its centuries old practice of Chaupadi earlier this week, and has now declared it as a punishable offense. Chaupadi stems from the old Hindu mythological belief that menstruating women are impure and can bring illness upon their families, if they stay in touch with the household. Following this, since hundreds of years women have been sleeping outside their houses, in dingy uncomfortable huts during their periods, irrespective of the weather, wild animals and other threats that lie in the darkness of the night.
In the past few months, over 5 women in Northern Nepal succumbed to death due to the practice of Chaupadi. The new law states that forcing women to practice Chaupadi shall be punished with a jail sentence of 3 months and/or a fine of up to 3,000 rupees.
Now and again, Chaupadi has been a controversy, particularly ever since the Nepal Supreme Court banned it in 2005, but due to lack of any regulatory or legal mandate, 60% of the female population was still being conditioned to it. Social activists across the nation are hailing it as a much needed reform, however, their concern remains that the practice of deserting women during their menses has been carried on by generations for a long time, so much so that it has become a part of the local culture, which most tribes won’t let go of easily. Despite being an irrational and misogynistic act, Chaupadi still exists and this can’t be blamed on the male dominated society solely, as the women too have followed the practice. The locals don’t acknowledge it as an illegal or hostile treatment to women.
Previously too Nepal witnessed similar laws, but none were successful in scraping Chaupadi out. With the Apex court bringing it in the legislature, the strictness regarding the issue may increase and here’s hoping, Nepal achieves the victory over Chaupadi once and for all.