Nepal: Woman banished in 'menstruation' hut dies of suffocation

Garima Bora

Nepal: Woman banished in

04 Feb 2019: Nepal: Woman banished in 'menstruation' hut dies of suffocation

In a tragic incident, a woman in Nepal is suspected to have died due to smoke inhalation while she was banished to a hut during her period.

In Nepal, many communities view menstruating women as impure and in some remote areas, it's mandatory for a menstruating woman to sleep in a hut away from home, a centuries-old tradition known as chhaupadi.

Here's what happened.

Death: Woman finds daughter-in-law dead in a smoke-filled hut

Last week, 21-year-old Parbati Bogati, was found dead in a smoke-filled hut in the western Doti district when her mother-in-law went to check on her.

"We suspect she died due to smoke inhalation and suffocation because she closed the door of the windowless hut and lit a fire on the floor for warmth during the night," local police officer, Lal Bahadur Dhami, told media.

Past incident: Previously, woman, two children died due to smoke inhalation

Parbati's body has been sent for autopsy, Dhami said.

Her death occurs just three weeks after a woman, who was on her period, and her two sons in Bajura district died of suspected smoke inhalation.

Following this, locals protested to demolish chhaupadi sheds in their village.

Local authorities warned that anyone forcing their daughters and daughters-in-law to follow the practice would be denied services.

Tradition: What is chhaupadi?

Chhaupadi, linked to Hinduism, considers women untouchable when they are menstruating, even after childbirth.

Under Chhaupadi, women aren't allowed to touch food, religious icons, cattle, and men.

The practice was outlawed in 2005 but some remote and conservative western regions in Nepal still follow it.

Last year, a three-month jail sentence and an NPR 3,000 (Rs. 1,900) fine were introduced for anyone imposing chhaupadi.

More reforms: 'Only legal provisions are not enough to end such practices'

Ganga Chaudhary, a lawmaker who was involved in the drafting of the legislation for chhaupadi, said a lot more needs to be done to enforce the law and change social norms in the country.

"We have realized that only legal provisions are not enough to end such practices. We need to focus on awareness and educating women," Chaudhary told media.