A village in Nepal is fighting against the social stigma on menstruating girls and women by offering cash rewards to those who refuse to be isolated in a menstrual hut.
The chairman of Purbichowki village municipality in Doti district announced in the wake of another death of a woman in the menstrual hut. The chairman offered a cash reward to women to refuse to practice this custom.
The police said that the 21-year-old Parbati Buda Rawat was in the menstrual hut where she lit a fire to keep herself warm in the freezing hut which was made of mud and stone. She was discovered dead the next day probably due to asphyxiation, according to the police. The incident took place in western Nepal's Achham district and she died suffocating, said Narapati Bhatta, a police inspector.
The menstrual huts existed for the centuries-old Hindu custom of "chhaupadi" where menstruating girls and women were isolated from the rest of the family because they were deemed "impure".
The practice was prevalent in different parts of Nepal, especially in the rural areas because having menstruating women in homes was regarded as "bad omen" which will lead to disasters.
People feared misfortune, or disasters like earthquake or floods if they have menstruating girls at home. Thus, they were isolated in menstrual huts or animal sheds.
Under this custom, menstruating girls and women were barred from meeting family members or venturing out. They were prevented from touching items like water, milk, religious idols and cattle.
Multiple deaths were reported due to this custom as girls were prone to, cold, toxic fumes and infections. Because they were isolated, multiple rape cases were also reported.
After the reports of a woman and a teenage girl's death, the practice of "Chhaupadi" was outlawed.
Multiple huts were demolished and people were penalised but they simply moved to another place and build the hut there.
Chairman of Purbichowki village Bogati warned that families who practice chhaupadi would be denied state benefits.