18 July, Kathmandu:
Chhaupadi practice, the tradition which banishes menstruating women/ girls and post-partum mothers from home for certain days still exists in Kailali, a Tarai district in the Sudurpashim state. It means that women and girls here continue to suffer this harmful practice and subject to its consequences despite its criminalization by the parliament in 2017.
This custom forces women during their natural cycle and new mothers to leave home and stay in make shift huts or cowsheds putting their lives at risk for several consequences like attack from wild animal, snake bite, rape, sexual harassment and so on. The stay in Chhaugoth is more challenging, daunting and uncomfortable for its observers during monsoon.
The treatment of family and society towards menstruating women and girls has remained the same as in the past. Under this circumstance, they reside in isolation within the home. Last year the local levels had run a campaign of demolishing chhaugoths, which had brought a kind to awareness in the area. The Lamki Chuha municipality demolished scores of chhaugoths while Tikapur municipality pulled down 37 chhaugoths last year.The local levels are still operating the campaign of demolishing chhaugoth but it has been affected due to the coronavirus pandemic. “We demolished the chhaugoths for two days last year.
“We had a plan to continuing this but had to stop due to the COVID-19,” said deputy mayor Keshari Bista, adding that they have appealed to the citizens to voluntarily demolish the chhaugoths at their respective local level wards. Chairperson of Tikapur-2, Prakash Budha remembered that there were 37 chhaugoth in his ward last year. He said, “ Some chhaugoths have been demolished after we decided to stop providing services being provided by ward. We will demolish the remaining chhaugoths ourselves.”
Tikapur municipality had allocated Rs 200,000 last year to end this ill practice. Of the budget, only Rs 33,200 was spent, said Chief of Women, Children and Social Welfare Section, Sangita Saha. Saha shared, “We failed to continue the campaign due to coronavirus pandemic. A policy has been taken to declare Tikapur municipality as chhugoth-free municipality net year. We are in a camping to change the mindset of looking women during their mensuration period. It will not be possible to change such mindset all of sudden but can be changed gradually.”