Menstruation Taboo in Nepal
In Nepal, menstruation is associated with stigmatising traditions and restrictions for women. People term menstruating women or girls as “Nachune Bhais” meaning “untouchable”.
This act of isolation and discrimination is mostly seen in western part and rural areas of Nepal. Women are forbidden to enter courtyard of their own houses. Chhaupadi prevails in Nepalese Society. Women are forced to stay away from home. They live in cow shed or small Hut. Many girls/women are mauled by wild animals, have suffocated while lighting fires to keep warm.
In the cities, it may not be a Chhaupadi, but their daughters, nieces and their female cousins face discrimination, exclusion and isolation in one form or the other. Brahmin, Chhetri and Dalit community follow this taboo. When a girl has her first period, she is isolated from her family members. She is restricted to meet male members. She is referred as unclean and forced to stay alone for ten to eleven days; thereafter the duration is for four and seven days each month.
Picture: Young girl staying inside a small hut ‘Chau Ghar’ during menstruation
Picture: Women and Girl staying inside hut during their menstruation
This taboo is outlawed in Nepal in 2005 A.D but it has been slow to change. The main reason behind this is women themselves believe the tradition. Women fear that God will curse; God will be angry with them and bring misfortune on the family. In superstition logic, if menstruating women touches a tree, it will never again bear fruit.
As a result, there are many cases women in rural areas die alone in huts. Also in cities women and girls get isolated during festivals or any other celebration during their period.
Understanding this fact, a project named ‘Happiness Sunflower Handcraft Project' is ongoing at Chuchepati, Nepal. This project is designed to empower women at Chuchepati who are affected by earthquake on April 25, 2015.
Now, 4 women are taking training to sew cotton sanitary napkins, one project manager and we have volunteer team in Hongkong who care and concern about Nepalese Women. We aim to make environmental friendly napkins which is both fruitful for user’s health and also environment. Women have been using the napkins and are happy to use chemical free napkin. We are using 100% cotton fabric so as to prevent from any allergy or skin sensitivity.
Picture: Happy Faces of Women at Owl home to display their product: cotton sanitary napkins
Picture: During family visit at Chuchepati
Picture: Nussica Cho training women to draft design at Owl Home, Chuchepati
We aim to distribute these cotton sanitary napkins to the women and girls at rural areas where such menstruation taboo exist. We can only imagine about the harsh situation women are going through during their menstruation period. We understand their pain. Our main motive is to create awareness among the women about their health and environment
Picture: Cotton napkins prepared at Owl Home, Chuchepati, Nepal