A 21-YEAR-OLD YOUNG WOMAN SENT INTO A ‘MENSTRUAL HUT’ IN REMOTE NEPAL DIES OF ASPHYXIATION
Gauri Kumari Bayak was found dead in a hut where she was forced to live because she was menstruating.
According to a government official, Tul Bahadur Kawcha, she died in a remote village in Nepal from asphyxiation. Gauri’s lungs shut down due to smoke inhalation which emanated from a fire she ignited in the hut to ensure she kept warm in the chilly temperatures of the mountain village.
An ancient Hindu custom prohibits women who are menstruating from taking part in normal family activities and having contact with men of the household because they are deemed “impure.” The culture is practiced both by the well-offs and lower class of Nepal.
The practice known as “chhaupadi” has claimed the lives of dozens of women and girls in Nepal despite being outlawed in 2005. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in Asia.
Tul Bahadur Kawcha said “the practice was still carried out in some remote villages despite a law being introduced last year to punish people who force women to follow the tradition.”
The new law, which becomes effective in August this year will result in “violators who force women into exile while they are on their periods facing up to three years in prison or pay a fine of 3,000 Nepalese rupees”. Until then, no punishments are to be handed out to violators.
Citizens have been given time to get used to it as Nepalese officials have long claimed “overhauling archaic, culturally entrenched attitudes” cannot take place over night.
NYTimes reported that “menstruating women often trudge outside at night to bed down with cows or goats in tiny, rough, grass-roofed huts and sheds. As they stay outside for the duration of their menstruation, some of these women have been raped by intruders or died from exposure to the elements.”