Nepalese woman suffocates after being banished for menstruating

Map of Nepal used to illustrate the story. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bertrand Gorge]
Map of Nepal used to illustrate the story. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bertrand Gorge]

A 21-year-old woman has died of suffocation while observing a century’s-old Hindu tradition that banishes menstruating women in Nepal’s remote far-western region, police said on Monday.

Lala Bahadur Dhami, head of police officer in Doti district, said the woman was on the fourth day of her period and had lit a fire to keep herself warm inside a house in the village of Purbichauki.

“It appears she died of suffocation after the fire. We will know more after the autopsy report is made public,’’ Mr Dhami said.

The incident recently occurred three weeks after another woman and her two sons died in similar conditions as a result of the practice in Bajura district.

Mr Dhami said the woman, after finding the communal menstruation hut crowded, decided to spend the night on the ground floor of an abandoned house near her home.

“The victim lived with her mother-in-law since her husband worked as a migrant worker in Malaysia,’’ the police officer said.

The practice is common in several districts of western Nepal.

It forces women to cowsheds or outhouses and forbids them from touching other people, cattle, vegetables or fruit.

The government criminalised the practice in August 2017, however it persists among patriarchal Hindu families that deem menstruating women as impure.


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