Responding to the death in Bajura district, Nepal, of a woman and her two young sons who had been forced to sleep in an outhouse during her menstruation, a practice known as Chhaupadi, Amnesty International said, the authorities must take urgent action to eradicate this discriminatory, harmful practice.
“In order to prevent further deaths, the Nepali authorities must immediately put in place a comprehensive strategy, designed in consultation with Nepali women’s rights groups, to eliminate Chhaupadi. This should include effective enforcement of existing laws criminalizing Chhaupadi and widespread education programmes in affected areas” said Niranjan Thapaliya, Nepal Section Director, Amnesty International.
“Chhaupadi is a violation of the right to be free from gender discrimination and gender-based violence which are guaranteed under the constitution of Nepal and international human rights treaties, including the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.”
Chhaupadi results from a belief, held in parts of Nepal, that women and girls are “impure” and “untouchable” after childbirth and during menstruation. As a result, families and communities regulate what and whom women and girls may touch. This includes forcing them to leave their house and live in a cowshed or separate hut constructed specifically for that purpose. These sheds are frequently dirty, lack protection from severe weather and are insecure.
Despite the introduction of the law criminalizing Chhaupadi in 2017, the practice continues to be widespread, especially in the mid-western and far-western regions and there have been numerous cases of women dying or being subjected to sexual violence while staying in Chhaupadi sheds.