Bajhang, Dec 11: With the demolition of 'chhaugoths' in Bajhang, women have been forced to stay in cave and in the open when they in their monthly cycle.
A chhaugoth is a makeshift or bamboo shed where menstruating women and new mothers are made to stay.
Such structures were demolished by the local government. Women are prohibited from entering home, eating dairy products and observing religious rituals and functions while they are menstruating.
Ujeli Bohara said,’’ We are not allowed to stay at home citing that it would make the God infuriated. On one hand, the local government comes to demolish Chhaugoth and on the other hand, we are forced out of home during menstruation and in such condition, I find no alternative to either spending a night in a cave or in open.’’
This is not the sorrow of women of Saipal rural municipality but of almost rural women in the district. Local women said the local government’s campaign to demolish chhaugoths has further increased their problem. Local Tilak BK said only destruction of chhaugoth would not suffice to force people to unlearn the practice. ‘’Instead, it needs change in their mentality.’’
However, rural municipality chair Rajendra Dhami said the campaign aims to see improvement in the women life and some parts have reported the achievement.
However, a section of Saipal population does not observe this harmful tradition against women. Women of the Lama, Tamang community do not observe Chhuapadhi while women from other castes and communities are made to practice it. Puja Tamang of Dhuli said,’’ We stay with the family and eat dairy products such as milk, ghee when are in the monthly cycle.’’
But people of other communities say that such activities within their communities would make the God angry. Dolma Tamang of the same locality said they cooked food, ate together with the family and did not leave home during period. Lafadi of Saipal is home to 35 houses and none of them observe the Chhaupadi.
Nepal has criminalized the Chhaupadi in 2017.