The tradition of Chhaupadi, popular in western-nepalese hindu communities, means that in some rural areas it is common for girls to be excluded from
interaction with the family for up to 6-10 days during their periods, childbirth can also result in a 10 day exclusion. Every month girls are separated from their
families, forbidden from looking at the sun, touching fruit and flowers and even staying in their own homes. During their periods girls are considered to
be ‘impure’ or ‘contaminated’.
It comes from a superstition of impurity, with the logic that if women touches things it will pass on that impurity and provide bad-luck or illness. Women are barred from consuming meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables through the fear that their menstruation will ruin the produce.
Instead they are forced to live off rice, salt and dry foods. This can be detrimental to girls' education, mental/physical health and role in the community. Chhaupadi was outlawed by the Supreme Court of Nepal in 2005, however it is still commonplace in rural communities.
Manisha, 14, says “I stayed at someone else’s house during my first period. I wasn’t allowed to go to school and, on top of that, I wasn’t allowed to even read a book. It was a wrong belief that we shouldn’t study during menstruation”
“The silence and stigma that surround menstruation impinges on girls’ everyday lives. Furthermore, when there are no safe, private toilets in schools, girls often skip school during their period, or drop out of school altogether once they reach adolescence. With nowhere hygienic to clean sanitary pads or wash, women and girls also risk infection. Being able to deal with periods in a hygienic and dignified way is crucial to women’s wellbeing. It helps women feel that they are able to play a full role in society, no matter what time of the month." - Barbara Frost, Water Aid
Thanks to the wonderful support of the organisation, Days for Girls , Classrooms in the Clouds were able to take out over 120 menstrual kits for Shree
Bakhapalam Lower Secondary School. We will be trialling the kits and meeting women and girls from the community to discuss the impact of menstruation on
day to day life. In addition to this, we have currently made a bid to the Hilden Trust for money to build gender specific toilets and provide clean water at the
school. In collaboration with John Moores University, Liverpool, CitC are collecting feedback and analysing the impact of improved facilities for girls at school
and how the barriers around the tradition of Chhaupadi can be broken down.