When 15-year-old Roshani Tiruwa lay down to sleep close to an open fire in a small mud hut last December, she was unaware that the smoke from the fire would suffocate her. Why was such a young girl sleeping alone just metres from her family home? Because Roshani was on her period.
Her death on 16 December was the second within a month in Nepal’s western Achram district caused by women being banished from their family homes because of cultural beliefs surrounding menstruation. Dambara Upadhyay, 21, was found dead in a hut on 19 November under similar circumstances, according to various news reports.
The ancient Hindu practice of chaupadi considers menstruating women to be impure. Those who uphold the practice forbid women and girls from touching men or even entering their own homes, and prohibit them from eating certain foods. Disastrous consequences are believed to follow transgression, such as crop failure…
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