[‘Impacts on social well-being of women due to the CHHAUPADI tradition (Being untouchable during menstruation) among the women of far western Nepal’] [The case study of the 'CHHAUPADI' tradition (a form of culture based gender discrimination) in Achham district, Far Western Region, Nepal]
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Introduction: Menstrual cycle is normally a physiological process in women which occurs during their active reproductive years. However, menstruation is perceived in different ways in different countries, societies, cultures and religions. Menstruating women are still perceived as impure and unclean during menstruation and it is still perceived as a taboo in many societies in the world. Menstrual bleeding is perceived as extreme impurity in some districts of far western region of Nepal and extreme discriminatory menstrual practices imposed on menstruating women and on women with new-born baby (during the first 14 days of the post-partum period). They are considered impure confined to isolated, unsanitary huts. Traditionally, this extreme form of discriminatory menstrual practice is called Chhaupadi. The Chhaupadi tradition is banned and outlawed by the constitution of Nepal in 2005 and criminalised by the government of Nepal in 2017. However, this is still practiced in far western region of the Nepal. Objective: The aim of this thesis research is to find impacts on the social well-being of the women in the Achham district of far western region of the Nepal due to the Chhaupadi tradition, and to put better light on the plight of the women`s condition due to this tradition. Methods: Data were collected through observation, semi-structured interview, serendipity data collection method and purposeful maximal sampling method. It was conducted in-depth interview with 3 key participants, formal interview with 8 respondents, and informal discussions with various informants. Findings: The study shows that most of the women perceive menstruation as the natural process however, as the symbol of impurity and sin. Chhaupadi practicing women experience several challenges including risk of illness, wild animal attack, sexual abuse, social isolation and discrimination based on gender. Most of the people in Chhaupadi practicing community are still unaware of law against Chhaupadi. Those who have heard about Chhaupadi being illegal do not know how they can take action against it. And some of the community members deny the idea of criminalization of this tradition as they consider it as part of their culture. The continuation of practice is influenced by various factors like society, culture, family, lack of awareness about the menstruation, fear of being isolated from society etc. Conclusion: The Chhaupadi practicing women are at high risk of physical illness, psychological stresses, social isolation, gender-based discrimination and accidental deaths in the Chhau-hut. These women lack social integration, are not socially accepted, they feel hopeless about their situation and lack the awareness about menstruation, legal establishment against the Chhaupadi practice and they see no hope for a better life. This finding suggests that social well-being of the women is adversely affected by this tradition and this issue needs to be addressed.
Master i International Social Welfare and Health Policy