In rural areas of western Nepal, many families follow the centuries-old practice of banishing girls and women from the home when they’re menstruating because they’re believed to be “impure”.
As well as being forced to sleep in huts, girls and women having their period have to do outdoor labour during the day. They’re restricted in who they can mix with, and only given limited food. Many are also banned from reading and writing. Most of them report feeling lonely and scared.
Women who have just given birth are also banished, along with their newborns. This contributes to a high mortality rate for both mothers and babies.
Chhaupadi is, in some ways, linked to the Hindu religion. Families who practice chhaupadi are said to fear that gods will be angered if the rules aren’t kept and women stay in the family home while having their period.
Officially, chhaupadi was outlawed by the Supreme Court of Nepal in 2005, but like many harmful cultural traditions, has proven difficult to eradicate. Last year, Radha Paudel from Action Works Nepal claimed that up to 95 per cent of women in some regions of the country were still practicing chhaupadi.