KATHMANDU, Nepal–Hari Maya is 22 years old. She, like most Hindu women in her part of western Nepal, resides in an old hut during the first five days of her menstrual cycle, a part of Chhaupadi tradition, a social practice to keep menstruating woman out of the house, considering her impure.
Hari Maya had her first periods at the age of 14. She was forced to occupy a shed away from her house that had neither doors nor ventilation. She could not even get fresh air. She was not allowed to look the sun and was prohibited to drink milk or any dairy products in the belief that will bring misfortune to the family.
As a child, Hari Maya’s mother would told her that her brothers would start shivering and be possessed by gods if she touched them or even powered water at them during her periods, according a report published in today’s Nepali Broadsheet daily.
“Those five days were a period of terror. I could be swallowed by wild animals or even raped while staying in those sheds”, she was quoted by the daily. According to her, she was not allowed to take bath for 4 days after her periods or comb her hair.
Though Chaupadi was banned by Nepal’s Supreme Court in 2005, but it is still common in the country’s far and mid-western regions.