In a historic move, Nepal has criminalized isolation of menstruating women. In simple terms, it will now be illegal to treat women like untouchables, when they are menstruating.
The custom called Chhaupadi in Nepal is linked with Hinduism and considers women impure when they are on their period.
According to reports, the new law stipulates,
A woman during her menstruation or post-natal state should not be kept in chhaupadi or treated with any kind of similar discrimination or untouchable and inhuman behaviour.
The heinous and rather atrocious custom meant that many women in different parts of the country were subjugated to inhuman treatment and banished into tiny huts or cattle sheds because they were on their period.
Of course, the decision is being hailed worldwide, because it is about time, that women were not discriminated against.
Any form of discrimination against women during periods– treating her inhumanely or as untouchable– is now illegal https://t.co/dqy7ROkiCR— Paavan Mathema (@paavan11) August 9, 2017
Sounds unreal? It shouldn’t because this happens in our country too, in many parts of the country in fact where women are isolated or kept away from temples etc because they are considered impure during their natural menstrual cycle. Bizarre as this may sound, many women in India are still fighting this banal prejudice that means that one of the most natural bodily function is frowned upon by many within their family or close circle.
Women in villages, like the Rohingya women, for example, struggle to maintain basic menstrual hygiene because there is so much taboo and myths surrounding this natural phenomenon. Women travel far far away to wash their sanitary cloth so no one can see them. Some use ashes or sand instead of sanitary pads.
Unfortunately, this problem transcends rural areas and communities. How many of us so called ‘educated’ women have been told by their grandmothers to keep away from the ‘pooja’ room or the kitchen because we were menstruating? Why is the leading sanitary napkin brand in the country asking us to ‘ whisper’? Why do we carry our pads hidden in black plastic bags? What are we ashamed of? What are we hiding?
While the Indian Supreme Court in a landmark judgment last year, upheld Indian women’s right to enter places of worship, during their menstrual cycle, we still have a long way to go before women could rid themselves of this taboo and prejudice.
India’s period problem is dire and our bleeding shame needs to bloody well, stop.