Friday, March 6, 2009

Women: Shameful and Unclean (part two)

This BBC article about the practice in Nepal of chhaupadi, or confining women who are deemed to be considered by society to be “unclean” is yet another way in which women are made to feel and be perceived as dirty and shameful.

In Nepal, chhaupadi applies to new mothers (until the eleventh day after the birth of their child), and to women during their monthly period. This practice is attributed to a belief that their god will become angry with families who do not practice chhaupadi. Padma Devi Deuba, a young mother, said of being on her period: “If I touch anyone, it will be a sin.” Other beliefs are not universal, ranging from bad luck on a household that allows a new mother or a menstruating women to remain in the house, to the idea that such women can make blood out of cow’s milk.

Many of the women in Nepal are forced to deal with cramped, unsanitary conditions, often in spaces shared with cattle, and the consequences can be frightening.

“Last summer a 15-year-old girl died of diarrhoea she contracted while sleeping alone in a shed. No one wanted to take her to a health post.”

Such realities did lead the government of Nepal to take some action on this issue.

“Extreme confinement was outlawed by Nepal's Supreme Court three years ago, but continues to be widespread.”

Devaki Shahi, who was confined after the birth of her son, now travels and speaks out for change in regard to this practice. She works for the Rural Women's Development and Unity Centre, a local charity.


lindsay said...

This is exactly why natural body functions (such as menstruation) shouldn't be considered shameful. Thanks, Amelia.

#6 said...

Have you read "Our Women are Free"? It's been years since I read it, but afterward I desperately wanted a menstrual "hut". Of course I don't agree with forced separation or the idea of menstruation as dirty, but I love the idea of building sisterhood in a space where men aren't welcome.

Anonymous said...

This is terrible, how can some people be so cruel? im a guy but i think menstruation is a natural part of a woman that should be respected, god create menstruation, it is sacred, not evil.