Nepal police probe death of girl banished for menstruating

Kathmandu, Dec 21 (IANS) Police in Nepal are investigating the death of a 15-year-old girl who was banished to a poorly-ventilated shed because she was menstruating, a media report said on Wednesday.

The girl’s body was found by her father last weekend in a stone and mud hut in Gajra village in Achham district, 440 km from here.

The police said the girl suffocated after lighting a fire to keep herself warm, BBC reported.

According to ancient Hindu practice, called chhaupadi, women who menstruate or who have just given birth are seen as “impure”.

Although the practice was banned in 2005 by the Hindu Himalayan state, it still persists in certain remote rural areas in Nepal.

Some communities there believe that they would suffer a misfortune (such as a natural disaster) unless menstruating women were secluded.

While in isolation they are denied their usual intake of food and are prohibited from drinking milk.

In many cases the huts that menstruating girls and women are banished to are shared with cattle and their excrement and are sometimes set far away from habitation.

They could be freezing cold in winter and stiflingly hot in summer.

The victims of the practice are often believed to suffer from mental and physical condition akin to post traumatic stress in their later life.

The chhaupadi rules mean that a menstruating female faces restrictions on where she can sleep, who she can see, where she is allowed to go and who she can touch.

Critics say the Nepalese government did not do enough to eradicate the practice or prevent child marriages.

But officials argue it is difficult to prevent such abuses when they are so deeply ingrained in the local culture.