In Rural Nepal, Menstruation Taboo Claims Another Victim

Jan 17, 2018


The last time anyone saw Gauri Kumari Bayak alive, she was gathering grass and firewood. Considered impure because she was menstruating, she was about to sleep outside in a cold hut.

She never woke up.

According to the police, Ms. Bayak is the latest victim of a very old tradition in rural Nepal, in which religious Hindus believe that menstruating women are unclean and should be banished from the family home. She was found dead on Monday, apparently having asphyxiated after building a small fire inside the hut to keep warm.

In Nepal, one of Asia’s poorest countries, dozens of women and girls have died in recent years from following this tradition, despite activists’ campaigns and government efforts to end the practice.

Menstruating women often trudge outside at night to bed down with cows or goats in tiny, rough, grass-roofed huts and sheds. Many have been raped by intruders or died from exposure to the elements.

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5 comments on “In Rural Nepal, Menstruation Taboo Claims Another Victim

  • @ OP – In Nepal, one of Asia’s poorest countries, dozens of women and girls have died in recent years from following this tradition, despite activists’ campaigns and government efforts to end the practice.

    The problem turns up in other countries too!

    Ghanaian schoolgirls have been banned from crossing a river while they are menstruating – and on Tuesdays.

    The ban, apparently given by a local river god, has outraged children’s activists, especially as girls must cross the river to reach school.

    The UN’s scientific and education organisation, Unesco, estimates one in 10 girls in the region does not attend school because they are menstruating, while a World Bank report notes that 11.5m Ghanaian women lack the appropriate hygiene and sanitation management facilities needed.

    Unicef’s menstrual hygiene ambassador Shamima Muslim Alhassan told BBC Pidgin that the directive, which applies to part of the River Ofin, violated girls’ right to education.

    “It seems the gods are really powerful aren’t they?” she said.

    “Sometimes I think that we need to ask for some form of accountability from these gods who continue to bar a lot of things from happening, to account for how they have used the tremendous power that we have given them.”

    Many cultures have myths and taboos around menstruation.

    In Madagascar, some females are told not to wash during their periods and in Nepal some women are forced to sleep in huts away from the rest of the family.

    Those gods just can’t cope with that “mystical” normal biology of sexual reproduction!

    Perhaps if their holy-men were kept in little huts with the cattle and the bull-shit, that would be a better solution!

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  • Absolutely appalling. The thought that any woman should be ejected from her own house because of a normal bodily function is horrifying. Surely an educated family would be aware of this but, once again, religion rears it’s head, used as an excuse for horrendous behaviour. That women have died in relation to Bronze Age thinking is just ridiculous. I fear it will take decades to even reduce this practice, and eradication? Well, who knows.

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  • From the article linked above:

    Her husband, a police officer in Kathmandu, said he had never forced his wife to follow the chhaupadi tradition, but that she insisted because women in her part of Nepal had done so for as long as anyone could remember.

    Here’s the thing. I believe that husband. I believe him. I’ll just bet that the guy didn’t even know when his daughter was menstruating or not. Am I wrong about this? Moms tend to know it though, don’t they?

    I don’t mind going out on a limb here and claiming that the old ignorant superstitious bitches are behind this abuse described in the article and they’re also behind genital mutilation too. Are women driving male circumcision too?

    If these behaviors are instigated by females then it will really help to know it even if it is an ugly truth to some.

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  • Billions of people are living with invisible chains, doing none sense to make some invisible non existent gods happy so that they would not get angry at humans and kill them. These humans don’t notice that their sacrifices don`t change anything. Humans still face problems, disease, death.

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