Nepali girl dies in a ‘men­stru­a­tion hut’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

An 18-year-old girl has died in Nepal af­ter she was bit­ten by a snake while ban­ished to a shed be­cause she was men­stru­at­ing, part of a long-banned an­cient Hindu prac­tice, of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day. Many com­mu­ni­ties in Nepal view men­stru­at­ing women as im­pure and in some re­mote ar­eas they are forced to sleep in a hut away from the home dur­ing their pe­ri­ods, a prac­tice known as chhau­padi.

Tu­lasi Shahi was bit­ten twice by a ven­omous snake and died on Fri­day morn­ing in western Dailekh district, lo­cal mayor Surya Ba­hadur Shahi said. “She sur­vived for seven hours af­ter the snake bite but died be­cause med­i­cal treat­ment was de­layed,” said Shahi. Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia, her fam­ily took her to the vil­lage shaman, or witch doc­tor, for treat­ment in­stead of tak­ing her to a hos­pi­tal. Lo­cal po­lice con­firmed that a girl had died but were un­able to pro­vide fur­ther de­tails on the cause. Chhau­padi is linked to Hin­duism and con­sid­ers women un­touch­able when they men­stru­ate, as well as af­ter child birth.

They are ban­ished from the home­barred from touch­ing food, re­li­gious icons, cat­tle and men-and forced to sleep in ba­sic huts known as chhau goth. Two women died in late 2016 in sep­a­rate in­ci­dents while fol­low­ing the rit­ual-one of smoke in­hala­tion af­ter she lit a fire for warmth, while the other death was un­ex­plained. Rights ac­tivists say many other deaths likely go un­re­ported. Chhau­padi was banned a decade ago but is still fol­lowed in parts of Nepal, par­tic­u­larly in re­mote western dis­tricts. Pro­posed leg­is­la­tion that would crim­i­nal­ize the prac­tice and make it an im­pris­on­able of­fence to force women to fol­low the rit­ual is cur­rently pend­ing in par­lia­ment.

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