How I learned about period inequities around the world
Two years ago while vacation, I picked up a NY Times newspaper and read the cover story ‘Nepal’s Grim Superstition- 2018’.
In the rural western region of Nepal, women are banished from their homes while having their period. Many sleep in huts constructed for the sole purpose of sleeping. This practice is called chhaupadi which means someone who has an impurity. Each year, at least one woman or girl dies in these huts from exposure to the cold, smoke inhalation or attacks by animals.
The chhaupadi tradition seems hard to break. People are taught that any contact with a menstruating woman will bring bad luck. The superstition believes if a woman goes inside the family’s home during her period, three things will happen:
1)A tiger will come
2)The house will catch on fire
3)The head of the house will get sick.
After the death of an 18-year old woman bitten by a snake, lawmakers pushed to write a new anti-chhaupadi law. Many Nepalese activist have also worked to persuade families in these small village to destroy their huts. The pressure is strong to believe in the superstition, yet progress is being made and people are beginning to listen.
Like many of you, I had no idea about these types of beliefs, and I had no idea they were hurting young girls and women. Learning about this ignited a curiosity to learn more.